Guest Column: Why nobody wants to play anymore; our backyard is doomed!

July 1, 1993

Guest Column: Why nobody wants to play anymore; our backyard is doomed!

By Dr. Robert R. Kopp

Why nobody wants to play

anymore; our backyard is doomed!

Aside from this summer’s drought and my Scottish genes, or moral repulsion to maintaining unnaturally green grass while pictures of the globe’s thirsty appear on the nightly news, my sons and their buddies have decided we’ve got the best backyard in the neighborhood for baseball.

Honestly, my wife and I like to watch Daniel and Matthew along with Mark, Doug, Robert, and others playing together and packing down basepaths that only a sledgehammer could penetrate.

Watching them brings back memories from down Chestnut Street and over the railroad tracks to a coal yard in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, where Sammy, Jimmy, Paul, and I played ball almost every day from dawn to dusk without stopping to eat more than 45 years ago.

We had wood rather than metal bats, used so much black tape when the leather came off the ball that it felt like hitting and fielding a big ball-bearing, learned coal chunks and especially slate were a lot better for bases than cardboard when the wind kicked up, and agreed warm Coca-Cola was better than no Coca-Cola.

And like the boys in our backyard, we had rules. Fair from foul, we inherited the rules from the older kids who matriculated to school ball.

It wasn’t too long before our very little league grew from two on two to five on five and so on.

Then something terrible happened.

Two of the boys who weren’t at all familiar with the rules began saying we needed to change them.

They convinced a few others to go along with them.

And it wasn’t too long before the rules seemed to change every time we got together to play.

It was very confusing.

And it wasn’t too long before we spent more time arguing about the rules than playing the game.

Then we went from nine on nine with reserves to five on five to whoever showed up.

Then something wonderful happened.

We decided the rules were really good when we started playing together.

So we played by the rules again.

And it wasn’t too long before our very little league grew again.

I think this is a metaphor for why mainline denominations have moved to the sidelines of religious life in America.

Even Coca-Cola figured out what happens when you mess with the original recipe.

You’d think churches would be a lot smarter than pop companies.

Maybe there’s hope for our backyard after all.

Dr. Robert Kopp is the pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Loves Park.

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