There’s nothing better when you’re a kid than being outside on a beautiful day. At least, when I was a kid there wasn’t. But times have changed, and kids tend to stay indoors more and more these days.
Here’s why I think the baseball field is the greatest place to spend childhood.
#1 Freedom to Roam
When I was a kid, during the summer I would go out the door and come back when the street lights came on. My parents didn’t know exactly where I was and I didn’t have a phone. They just knew I was somewhere around the neighborhood. Most kids don’t have that luxury today. With all of the media reports of crazy kidnappers and our instinct to helicopter parent, kids just don’t have the same freedoms.
Baseball league fields give kids that freedom. In most cases, they’re fenced in and there are familiar people around who our kids know and are comfortable with, and who keep an eye on things. I’ve felt comfortable for a few years now leaving my kids at the fields with their teammates to watch games and run around. I think the freedom this has given them is an important step in growing up.
#2 Sense of Community
After you’re part of a league for a while, the people there become like family. It’s very comforting to go somewhere where you know everyone and have a sense of belonging. The people at our league take pride in the fields and common areas, and do a great job keeping everything clean and running smoothly. It’s great for parents to lead by example in showing pride for their communities, and kids learn valuable lessons by being part of these big families.
#3 Opportunities for Giving
My boys took part in several volunteer activities at our local Little League. They did everything from working the snack bar to helping with clinics, to picking up trash. Doing things for your community is a great way to learn to give back. The kids at the league have also learned how to do some important tasks like painting, yard work, and other handyman type jobs that will help them throughout adulthood.
The older kids in the league are also great examples for the little ones who look up to them and teach them sportsmanship and how to be leaders.
#4 Lifelong Friendships
My kids have moved on to new schools and new teams, but the kids they played at the league with will always remain in their lives. These are the kids they spent three or four nights a week and weekends with at practices and games. They had sleepovers, birthday parties, major league games together, and just time for hanging out.
Being able to spend time just running around the field, watching other games, and hanging out has been a wonderful time for them that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
#5 Time to Be Outside
Let’s face it: kids spend way too much time indoors. Video games, TV, and just laziness has caused a lot of kids to avoid going outside and playing. A ballparks is an outdoor paradise filled with green grass, hopefully some trees, and lots of fresh air. Chances are if your kid is at the ball field, he or she is getting some much needed exercise just by being out moving around. There’s also the vitamin D from getting some sunshine. This article in Rodale’s Organic Life details some of the mental health benefits of being outside.
Any sports field is a great place for kids to spend their time; baseball just happens to be my favorite. Being an active kid has so many health benefits, physical and mental, and helps to shape them into active and healthy adults.
You might also enjoy my article: 10 Lessons from Baseball That Can Help Your Child’s Mental Growth