By Ken Lass
You glance up at the clock and realize it’s 5 pm on a weekday night. Time to get your child/grandchild dressed, gather up the equipment, and head to the Trussville sports park for his or her baseball game, or soccer game, or practice. You wonder why, for some reason, these events always seem to be scheduled right in the teeth of rush hour traffic.
You battle the downtown Trussville gridlock and finally arrive at the sports park, only to find the nearest open parking space is somewhere between Argo and Springville. Out of desperation, you create your own parking space. After all, the folks who drove that minivan you just blocked in probably won’t mind. Besides, that handicapped sticker dangling from their rearview mirror is probably a forgery anyway.
You bolt out of the car with your young athlete and trudge to the field. Somehow you always wind up toting the backpack. At last, the game begins. You slump back into a spot on the blisteringly hot bleachers and draw a deep breath. You find yourself pondering why you have spent all that money on uniforms, gear, and registration fees, just to watch your child completely lose interest in the game as he sits down behind second base, entertaining himself by filling his ball glove with infield dirt, and then pouring it out on his newly washed pants.
Can you relate to this experience? What if I told you there was a way you could get your child involved in a city recreation activity without having to leave the comfort of your own home? An activity even you could get involved in. And it’s free!!
It’s true. I noticed the other day the Tribune reporting the Trussville Parks & Rec department has announced a new program which they call “esports.” For those of us born in the Dark Ages, the “e” stands for electronic. That’s right. It’s video games. League video games. All those hours you thought your kid wasted staring at a monitor, furiously manipulating joy sticks and colored buttons, can now be channeled to develop his competitive instincts and maybe even sharpen their multi-tasking ability.
TPC is offering three different game competitions on three different nights. Monday is Mario Kart, Thursday brings Rocket League, and Friday it’s Fortnight. I’ve never played Fortnight, and I have no clue what Rocket League may look like, but I have played me some Mario Kart. Oh brother, have I. My pre-teen son mastered it quickly and always challenged me to races. He would literally toy with me, allowing me to lead the entire race until just before the finish line, whereupon he would release bombs that blew me off the road, then pass by me to win, all the while laughing his annoying little head off.
Frustrating as it was, I did have to admire how the games seemed to develop his reflexes and force him to think quickly and analytically. He’s in his late thirties now, well-established in a solid career, and I actually think the video games helped him in certain ways. He still fires up the console occasionally, though his games are now far more complex and probably more graphic than just watching Luigi careen off the road into a brick wall.
You will have to join the Trussville Parks & Rec community on the Mission Control app to join a league. The website is https://missioncontrol.app.link/communities/66. Mission Control bills itself as “a platform where players can squad up with their crew or compete against frenemies in local recreational esports leagues.” Duke University has a league on the site. So does Special Olympics of Oregon. And now Trussville has one as well. Deadline for registration for this season is January 27. Got questions? You can ask Josh Taylor at email@example.com.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the value of good old outdoor team sports. There are social and health benefits to running up and down a soccer field or rounding the bases. Then again, if the Moody underground landfill fire is still blowing smoke into our collective lungs, you may want to rethink outdoor activity. That’s a column for another day.
But just think. No uniforms, no special equipment, no battling through traffic, no contemplating illegal activity to secure a parking space. If something like this had existed when I was a child, my parents would probably have never sent me to school. Of course, when I was a child, we didn’t even know what a computer was.
If this concept is new to you, you are a bit late to the party. Avid gamers have been slapping on the headphones and playing video games against opponents in other locations for years. Might be fun to try.
Just be aware there is a good possibility you might get beat by someone who is not as old as the slippers you are wearing.