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Editorial: People not getting out as much

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 10:30 a.m. CDT

Bowling is generally considered a blue-collar sport, while golf is seen as white collar.

Yet both have suffered declining participation nationally, which is evident locally.

Last week, we ran stories about Wauconda Bowl and Renwood Golf Course. Wauconda Bowl's owner says the alley is struggling, in part, because young people don't bowl as much as they used to.

"Kids are playing their video games. They are on their telephones. When we were kids, we used to go rollerskating and bowling, but kids today are in a whole different realm," owner Lori Kmiecik said.

Officials from the Round Lake Area Park District, which runs Renwood, probably can sympathize. In our story, they reported that like other golf courses, Renwood is seeing fewer people in the 18-to-35 demographic.

In 2013, according to the National Golf Foundation, 4.1 million golfers stopped playing. Only 14 new courses were built last year, while 157 closed, the group said.

As for bowling, the number of alleys has been dropping for three decades, Bloomberg Businessweek reported recently. And the downward trends are not limited to golf and bowling. Participation in fraternal organizations also has plunged for years.

What's going on here?

Kmiecik may have the right idea. With all our gadgets, it may seem there's less reason to get off the couch. If you're older than 35, you probably remember spending a good part of your childhood outside. Now, you can drive on street after and street and not see a single child.

Yes, there are safety concerns for children. But it's important to enjoy full lives. And that includes getting fresh air and exercise and meeting other people. Getting off the couch is key.

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