Friday, July 11, 2008

Oh, dear.

...I don't think this was what they intended.

Big, splashy ad on the TV (can't remember for sure but I think I was watching Cartoon Network at the time.

"BE A PLAYER!" the ad exclaims.

and then, in smaller letters: "Get an hour of physical activity every day."

Now, surely I'm not so behind-the-times in slang, that the "alternate" meaning of "player" has gone away? Surely some of the kids seeing that (especially the teens) will respond to "Be a Player!" with some Beavis and Butthead-esque laughter?

And yeah, I suppose encouraging physical activity is a good thing. But I have to admit I really hate that one PSA with the cartoon ref, who throws down a yellow flag for "inactive activity" and forces the kids to go outside and run around. I especially hate at the end that it encourages the kids to go online to look stuff up, "but don't stay too long!"

As I said: physical activity is a good thing. And heck, maybe many kids today aren't that active. But it sort of irritates me, the very nanniness of the ad. (If some cartoon character had showed up in my living room on a hot summer day while I was reading a book, trying to escape the summer heat and my own hatred of being 13, and they told me I needed to go out and "play," I would have showed them a particular physical gesture I had just learned earlier that year).

I do know when I was a kid I did spend a lot of time running around outdoors and also doing borderline-dangerous stuff like climbing trees. Maybe not a full hour EVERY day though; Wednesday afternoons I had piano lessons. And maybe kids don't do that so much any more. But I'm getting tired of childhood being turned into Adulthood, Jr. - where you're expected to eat healthy foods all the time, and cupcakes are considered contraband in some schools, and there's a push to get those kids out exercising (in fact in some places, unstructured play - the good kind - is being looked at critically because apparently it doesn't raise the little darlings' heart rates enough, or something).

Childhood is childhood. They'll have 50 years or more to be adults.

I do remember my one experience with "structured" sports as a kid: my parents enrolled me in Saturday-morning field hockey when I was 12 or so. (I think it was at the pressuring of my doctor, who saw me gaining weight but not gaining height...I was starting a growth spurt but I started it pound-wise first).

I HATED it. No, I LOATHED it. I was on a team with all the "popular" girls. In other words: the ones who saw me as the gum on the bottom of their shoes, and the ones I saw as my daily tormentors.

They used to "test their sticks" by beating on my shinguards with them. They never passed to me. They said rude things to me and excluded me from their conversations.

I was miserable. I begged my parents to let me stop. I told them I'd go on a diet if they let me (and I did.)

However - when I could just run around outdoors, or play with CHOSEN playmates (there were four kids, close in age, in the family across the street and we got some awesome games of kick-the-can or smear-the-[politically incorrect term for a homosexual] going with a few other neighborhood kids.) So I wasn't a total slug but I did learn to hate the organized team sports. (And I continued in that. I played tennis in high school but that's not really a "team" thing, at least not where you can be frozen out by the other people on the playing field. And I swam, but then again: you're doing your thing when you do it BY YOURSELF and while your team-mates can make your life hell when you're out of the water, when you're there in the lane, it's just you and the people from the other teams.)

So I admit, I tend to be very cynical when well-meaning adults take something kids would do for fun (left to their own devices and provided a location where they can do it) and make it into work. And make it into Good For Them. And make it into something with which adults can interfere, because I remember as a kid feeling often that "adults take everything fun and screw it up."

But: Be a Player. Yeah. You don't want to be saying that so much when they get to be 17 and 18.

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