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Isolation is changing the way people entertain themselves, maybe even for the better.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Wade EvansonHopscotch lives.

Yep, believe it or not, on one of my seemingly endless walks through the neighborhood last week, I not only saw what appeared to be the field of play, but later witnessed firsthand that playing field filled with a handful of neighborhood kids, a middle-aged woman and what looked to be an adoring grandmother getting a glimpse into her own past by way of an age-old game I thought was dead and buried.

Yes, they were — from what I could tell — practicing social distancing, so keep your precipitous clouds clear of my parade. But while doing their part in this time of isolation, they were also resurrecting one of a number of playground classics thought to be lost forever in an age of computers, PlayStations, tablets and cellphones occupying our youths' time.

Sure, I grew up with video games. In fact, my gamer days go back to Intelevision, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and well into the Sony and Microsoft products that you find today. But while I happily burned the midnight oil a weekend or two breaking in a newly purchased or rented game with my childhood buddies, if given an option we'd have happily chosen a street football, backyard wiffle ball or a driveway hoops game over the digital version that awaited nighttime attention.

But times are different now, so picture my delight seeing kids in the street, on the sidewalk, or in their driveway making the most of their time limited mostly to themselves, some chalk, a ball or toy of some sort and a relatively untapped resource we all possess: an imagination.

I've always advocated for alone time, at least to some extent, when it comes to kids. I know that's an unpopular opinion in this day of countless activities designed to occupy children's every waking hour, but I believe that some of our most valuable assets are cultivated in times of isolation, without friends or relatives, and with nothing more than our own wits to cobble together some form of entertainment.

As a child I created my own games using football and baseball cards, Nerf hoops, skipping ropes and of course a bicycle. I'd play hockey on roller skates, with a tennis racket and whiffle ball. One-on-none football with a Nerf football and slanted rooftop. Baseball with a pitch-back, and what couldn't you do with a driveway basketball hoop? Sure, it was typically more fun to play along with a good friend or neighbor, but in a pinch I was equipped with the skills necessary to make the most of very little — when very little was all I had.

Hopscotch is game that by most accounts is more than 300 years old, and by all accounts entertained youth through at least Generation X. If you're 40 or older I bet you've played it, along with similarly goofy games like Red Rover, Hide and Seek, and of course tag (not ideal in today's climate). Heads Up Seven Up, jacks, marbles, and Simon Says. And not to be forgotten, Red Light/Green Light, four square and Capture the Flag. And I didn't even get into bean-ball games like dodgeball, Dare Base, and War Ball. All classics and all — or most — back on the table during these lonely, isolated times.

And maybe that's one of the very few good things about what we're going through?

Kids, and adults as well, have been forced to turn back the clock. Many of the modern day conveniences we've become accustomed to in regards to our entertainment have been forced from our hands. Sure, you can certainly still spend your share of time streaming television shows or movies, playing video games and fiddling with one of hundreds of computer products built to entertain. But with little else on our plate and far too much time to sit around and eat, we and our kids need each other more than ever, and our age-old games are bringing us together.

That's a good thing, and we can thank hopscotch later.

Wade Evanson is sports editor of the News-Times, publishing as the Washington County Times.


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