Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

PRIME TIME: Sports in 2017: That big, black bag with everything in it

It takes a lot of equipment to outfit even the smallest and youngest of athletes. (Submitted photo)

Kids used to play sports because it was fun, got them out of mom’s hair, or to hang out with friends. While those reasons to play still hold sway, there is a difference today.

 Doug Lewandowski

A baseball game a generation ago required a glove, a ball and some old cardboard for bases. Hockey games called for skates, a puck, a Christian Brothers’ hockey stick, ice on a rink or pond and a hard plastic cup tucked between the legs.

While all the modern additions to athletic equipment have helped reduce injury, hauling all the stuff around has eliminated the spontaneity of a pick-up game. Stuffing an athletic bag that sometimes is as long as the kid is tall, necessitates either an exceptional memory or a long checklist. Having observed a 5-year old budding Gordie Howe get ready for practice, here is the list -- Safety wear: helmet with face mask, gloves, shin pads and a mouth guard. Uniform: hockey socks, pants, a custom made jersey and shoulder pads. And of course, especially with younger players, there are the marginally sharp skates and skate guards. In their off hours, the skates sometimes get used as shoes on the way to the car.

There is no way the kid carries the bag. There is an adult somewhere in the mix. Multiplied by the number of players it takes to have a game, it’s obvious that a Suburban, Minivan or at least a SUV Crossover is required. The amount of equipment for each child’s athletic endeavor varies depending on the sport, the one exception being the size of the bag for swimming. Even with that, it seems the size pretty much remains the same.

Over time, the big, black-strapped containers that haul equipment end up being conveyances for everything else in a kid’s life. School books get tossed in, whether they are used or not, and changes of clothes for band, chorus or the night shift at McDonald’s. Also ending up in the shadowy depths are the occasional musical instrument and if the young person cringes at the idea of a school lunch, vegetarian, gluten and pesticide free organic bologna or peanut butter sandwiches can be added. The bag becomes heavier and frequently drags on the sidewalk rather than carried. The younger pack mule develops a list to port or starboard. The next stop the chiropractor.

Winter as all seasons, has its own set of images and memories locked in our consciousness: a crisp cold night with boots squeaking on frigid ground, a gentle snowfall that muffles the sound of passing cars, or chilled hands wrapped around a warm mug full of hot chocolate with bobbing marshmallows.

The mental pictures endure, but now there is a new one to add . . . that bag! It’s nice to have a one size fits all repository, a real convenience. However, if the adult that has marginal control of a kid neglects to investigate the fragrances emanating as the bag rolls by, those socks at the bottom no matter the sport, tend to take on life or a life of their own. Eeww!

Advertisement