When the BoTC staff stumbled upon an article about K-State favorite Jordy Nelson and his experience with being a high school athlete, we were curious to see what he had to say. From reading the article, it was less about being a high school athlete and more universal as to show hard work and determination are more important than just talent. The other underlying message of the article? A war on kids playing video games. While most of us at BoTC indulge in the occasional video game or two, we wanted to discuss this idea that playing outside more makes you a better person.
If you haven’t already seen the article about Jordy Nelson and his path to the NFL superstar that he is now... be sure to check it out here.
Jordy Nelson’s opening line as advice to kids about being active and eating healthy is “Get off the video games and go play outside.” As a kid, did you play video games?
Gracey Terrill: Nope, I was told as a kid that video games were a waste of time (I actually can’t say what my father told me about video games on here) and to do something else. As an only child that usually meant entertaining myself with something else.
Wildcat00: I didn't play that much as far as video games, simply because we had little to choose from. Also, the lack of hand-eye coordination that made me a terrible athlete made me terrible at video games.
Eric Rubottom: Hell yes I played video games! Grew up with them. Started with an Atari 2600 at 5, got the NES when it came out when I was 6 for Christmas. Finished the Legend Of Zelda at the ripe-old age of 8. Been a significant part of my life ever since; I still play 1-2 hours a day on average.
JT VanGilder: I played all the time when I was kid, not just game console but computer too. After graduating from SNES to Playstation it was primarily sports games on console, and I still have the last version of EA Sports NCAA Football for PS3 (I haven’t upgraded yet) that was made because it’s the only game I play consistently.
If a kid wants to play video games after school instead of going outside and playing, does their athletic talent suffer?
GT: Not necessarily, I agree that children that are glued to video games and iPads probably need to have an adult supervising how MUCH time they spend. Video games can be addictive and when they are trying to focus on school and athletics, I could easily see them being a distraction. If they are used to relax and give the kid a mental break, I think that is beneficial.
00: I think a lot of things suffer when a kid ONLY wants to play video games after school. But if it's just one of many things a child does in a day, I don't see video games as a net negative. (Anecdotal, but observing how rendered characters move in a video game has actually helped my kid athletically).
Eric: I would say "yes", and the reasoning should be pretty obvious. However, the question posed creates the illusion that video games and sports are an "either/or". They're not, and they both have redeeming qualities. Video games have taught me hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, pattern recognition and prediction, memorization, strategy, and research skills. Many of the games I have played and still enjoy playing are role-playing games, so it's story-backed. Where many people read fiction, I play these kinds of games. For me, it's an interactive book.
JT: I agree with all my co-writers on this one. If video games/electronics are the sole source of entertainment there is an issue. But mixed in with other activities then there are definitely positive. Among the things Eric mentioned you can also learn teamwork in group games, and reading skills are an interesting addition to some of the more immersive games.
Nelson’s childhood was spent growing up on a farm in a rural area, so sports were an alternative to getting into trouble. Did you play sports in high school and if so, did they keep you out of trouble?
GT: I played lacrosse in high school and also showed horses, so that kept me busy enough. However, I still got in trouble without the help of being addicted to video games. Between practice, homework and having a social life, I didn’t spend much time missing video games. When I got involved with showing horses, I wasn’t home long enough to ever play video games. I didn’t even have a TV in my bedroom until I was 23 years old.
00: I did not play sports in high school. My parents used the Asian parents' toolbox of shame to keep me out of trouble. I learned classical dance for 5 years as a teen though. It was sort of like a sport?
Eric: I didn't live on a farm, but did live in the same type of rural area (our high schools are in the same league). I played sports all through grade school, junior high, and high school, including summers. Three (even four) sports in HS. Still play sports to this day. Sports didn't keep any of the kids "out of trouble"...they still managed to find it despite being involved in athletics. My $0.02 - the only thing that keeps kids out of trouble are kids that want to stay out of trouble.
JT: I lived in “rural” areas growing up, and lived outside the city limits for at least five years when I was young, but my family have never been farmers. I played sports when I was younger, but stopped when we moved to the town where I graduated high school. Some of that was me, and some my parents (I wanted to play football in 7th grade, but couldn’t and ran cross country instead, hated it, and then couldn’t play basketball because I “had a bad attitude”). In my experience, kids who are in sports aren’t any more likely to be less involved in “trouble” than a non-sports peer, same with achieving in school. Like Eric said, kids who want to stay out of trouble generally do, regardless of school activities they are involved in.
So much of Nelson’s message is based hard work and dedication to doing your best, this article seems to end with talking about how awful video games are… I see most college athletes and pros playing Madden and FIFA non-stop, do they need to go outside more too?
GT: Yes, clearly they are not doing enough with two-a-days and constant workouts. Do better, student athletes. As far as pros? How did you even GET THIS FAR by playing video games for fun? Shameful, really.
00: I think video games actually help with coordination and form for individuals who are already athletically inclined. My kid plays FIFA, NBA2K17, Madden, etc. He's also a decent athlete for his age and size and plays organized hoops, flag football, tennis, etc. As a side benefit, he's learning a lot about schemes and plays from playing video games.
Eric: Nope - see point #2. Video games continue to be a generational red herring to mask crappy parenting, just as smartphones and other new technology have become.
JT: Being last in line has it’s disadvantages. I agree with my co-writers on this one, again. Also, I spent good quality father-son time with my dad playing NFL football games when I was a pre-teen and teenager. I enjoyed spending that time with him, and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed spending that time with me. I competed in other games against my sister and mom (yes, both my parents played video games with us; often it was my mom we had to kick of the console so others could have a turn). So parents can make video games a family activity if they want, just like anything else.
Nelson’s message is “get off the video games and go play outside,” what would your message to the younger generation be?
GT: Oh good, an opportunity for me to lecture children! My message would be simple… Be grateful for naps that adults force you to take, everyone as an adult is cranky and miserable to be around because we don’t get naps anymore. Play video games if you want, just be grateful for naps.
00: My message is "be a kid." If that means playing outside but sometimes also inviting Joey from next door over to play XBox, that works for me.
Eric: Strive to be a well-rounded person. If video games are your "thing", then great - play video games. If sports are your focus, then play sports. But always find and develop other activities you enjoy, and try to excel at them. Don't do just one thing. Ever. Intellect, athleticism, awareness, and empathy are all things that can be learned through hobbies or activities.
JT: Do many things, be involved, but do what you enjoy. If you enjoy playing video games then do that, just make sure you take some breaks to enjoy “real-life” once in a while. I played plenty of video games, but also read a lot of books, played several instruments, played outside, and more. There are plenty of hours in the day to make time for the things that are important. And for parents, video games aren’t a bad thing, if you stay involved (but don’t helicopter either).
So what do you guys think? Check out the article and leave your comments below!