Monday, August 24, 2009

Ballin' Alone

Whenever possible, I like to take our two eldest childrens to nearby parks. We're fortunate enough to have three such facilities within relatively easy walking distance and I try to hit them each with some regularity.

During weekdays there always seems to be a basketball game going on at one particular park. These are not random pick up games with people who just happen to show up. Rather, these are groups of friends who have made arrangements to meet at the park at a certain time for purposes of playing ball.

Over the course of the summer, I've noticed most of the time the players seem to be divided into certain groups. One day it will be all black guys playing. Another time, all white. Another Indian and another Vietnamese. The groups don't all show up regularly nor do they seem to have particular day of the week when they decide to play.

But when they do, the groups are pretty consistently of the same demographic composition when it comes to age and race. Which probably isn't surprising as they are no doubt friends off the court as well as on.

Those who are of "diversity is our strength" persuasion might look upon this situation with concern. Shouldn't we all be playing together as part of one big community?

However, while I find it interesting to observe the separate (but hardly equal) groups playing ball, I don't take it as a sign that something is wrong with our society. The fact that individuals of similar cultural backgrounds would freely choose to associate with one other should not surprise anyone. The health of the society is determined by whether its member can freely associate with those of different backgrounds, not whether they actually choose to do so or not.

Besides, as Robert Putnam has noted, it seems that birds of a feather are more comfortable and happy flocking together. No need for government diversity camps on this side of the pond. Yet.

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