You want to know what is the problem with kids today?
As near as I can tell, it’s adults who say things like, “You know what is the problem with kids today?”
Kids today — much like kids for all eternity, based on the extensive research I’ve done on the matter — get a pretty bad rap from adults, most of whom seem to forget they were once, in fact, kids. Their hair is too long, their clothes are too small, they don’t work hard enough, they play their music too loud and, presumably, they are all on drugs.
Pretty much the only thing that separates the rotten kids of today from the rotten kids of yesteryear is that today’s kids “spend too much gosh darn time on their gosh darn phones.”
My oh my, how quickly we forget. Because 20 years ago, everything — and everyone — was perfect, right.
I’m finally starting to reach an age at which I no longer am identified as a young person. I am, officially, an adult. Sometimes I even choose to act like one. Sometimes. Despite my sometimes juvenile misgivings, however, I am never mistaken for a young person when out in public. At best, I am someone who needs to “act his age.”
Which means many people feel free to confide in me — as a fellow adult — and tell me all the things in the world that are wrong with “kids today.”
I find all of this pretty comical, mostly because — for the most part — I think kids today are doing a pretty good job in a world that has been made a lot more difficult for them thanks in large part to some pretty poor decisions made by adults.
For the best 20 years, much of my life has revolved around writing stories about kids, specifically teenagers. As a sports writer, I’ve talked to them following their greatest moments of triumph and their most frightening moments of defeat. I’ve had them hug me following their victories and lean their heads on my shoulder and sob following their losses.
They’ve allowed me in on some of their greatest secrets. I’ve had them tell me what it’s like to battle cancer, how it feels to go home knowing there won’t be any food in the house and how scared they are because they don’t know what their future holds in store for them.
I’ve also seen the hope in their eyes — a look that only comes when you are young and beautiful and invincible and feel like anything, literally anything, can happen in life. So long as there is always another game to play, there’s always a glimmer of hope.
My job has allowed me to interview all manner of athletes, competing in nearly every sport at nearly every level, from high school to college to the professional ranks. I’ve interviewed third-string high school bench warmers all the way up to future professional hall of famers.
When people find out what it is I do for a living, they always ask me who was my favorite athlete to meet and interview — expecting to run through a laundry list of Wheaties box cover boys, multi-millionaires and Sports Illustrated subjects. Instead, they always end up getting a top five of former high school athletes they’ve likely never heard of or don’t remember.
That’s because kids are candid. They are honest. They are open. They are sincere. They are willing to share their lives with you — provided, of course, you are willing to ask a few questions and take the time to listen. I love my job in large part because I love the written word — but also in just as large measure because I love the kids I get to work with.
Recently, my job expanded and I’m no longer writing about just athletes and not just about teenagers, but about school children of all ages throughout Miami County. My mission is to bring to readers the positive stories of kids in all facets of life — from academics to arts to altruism.
I have zero doubts I’ll have any trouble finding stories.
And don’t get me wrong — I’m not hear to say all kids are always good all the time. They make mistakes — probably at nearly the same rate as adults. And yes, there are some bad kids out there.
But you know what? There are some bad adults out there, too … I’ve seen many of them are running for president.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong