Bundesliga News

"Old School" Baumann speaks on his love of athletics:
"My appeal is go out, engage in sport, and follow your dreams!"

By Peter Vice

In a fascinating interview with Germany's Sport Bild, veteran TSG 1899 Hoffenheim keeper gave some thoughtful insights on the deleterious effects on sport brought upon by pandemic times and modern technology.

Oliver Baumann.
Oliver Baumann.Photo: TSG Hoffenheim

A recent study by German public Health Insurance agency Deutsche Angetellten-Krankenkasse (DAK) found that, among 10-to-17-olds, found that computer game and social network use has increased up to 70 percent weekly during the corona lockdown. An already worrying trend of increased screen time for youths seems to have been quantifiably exacerbated in the Bundesrepublik.


Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann gave a candid interview on the subject with Germany's Bild-Zeitung. Speaking to reporter Lukas Dombrowski, the ten-year-Bundesliga veteran offered his honest and sincere thoughts on the effects modern media on young minds.

A translation of the transcript is supplied below.

Dombroksi: Mr. Baumann, are we losing a generation of young footballers because of the pandemic?

Baumann: Yes, I think so. On my way to training, I always drive through villages and pass a lot of football pitches--they're increasingly often empty. Recently, it's been hardly possible to two meet friends because of corona, but even before that I had the impression that fewer and fewer young people were running around outside. I'd be happy to see more groups with a ball again. Not only on the pitches, but everywhere. And it doesn't always have to be football. The main thing is exercise and sport. Back in the day, when I didn't have a goal, I'd just kick a ball against the wall myself.

Dombroksi: What keeps young people from doing that today?


Baumann: For me, it was always home for dinner when it got dark. But one still never made it on time, because one got lost [in the sport] and didn't want it to end. But right now, priorities revolve around the latest technology; the PlayStation, the X-Box, and social media Instagram rather than sport and social things. It's a worrying development.

Dombroksi: But you were born in 1990, didn't you have a PlayStation?

Baumann: Oh yes, and we gamed too. But we spent hours banging on the garage doors of friends before resorting to that. The priorities have to be right. Computer games are fun and you can have a good time playing them. But I'm worried that it's trending towards too much computer and media time and that kids are forgetting how much fun and enjoyment sports can bring; how important they are to all of us.

Dombroksi: What sort of impact will this have on football?

Baumann: It endangers it long-term. We'd certainly like to see the sport live for a long time. If all I did in the past was sit in front of the PlayStation, I certainly wouldn't be a Bundesliga goalkeeper today. My appeal is: Everyone go out, engage in sports and follow your dreams! Be active. It doesn't have to be football either. I used to run track and field before I got into football.

Dombroksi: How does one prevent children and teenagers from just hanging out in front of the screen all the time?

Baumann: I think it's primarily a matter of parents being role models, but schools have their role to play as well. I think it's their duty to address the problem of media consumption and its potential side effects in the classroom.

Dombroksi: With what message?

Baumann: I think it makes sense to always have a daily structure. For example, to sit down the night before or in the morning and plan it out: When can I spend some time in the fresh air or doing sports? The model should be supplied by the parents. And, around the age of 16, you can plan it out yourself. That's very difficult in times of Corona, but that's precisely why you need to work on it. Otherwise, kids will just sit in front of their laptops, mornings, at school, and at night. I see a real danger that kids will slip into media addiction.

Dombroksi: Because gaming leads to addiction?

Baumann: You only have to look at the role-playing and strategy games that are currently available. Most of them have a reward system that make you want to keep playing, or you feel an obligation to your fellow players. Very few can resist these urges. Additionally, [with sitting] there's the postural problems [that come with it] and the lack of personal and social contacts, which are important to all of us. The sporting potion in school is enormously important.

Dombroksi: Why is this topic so important to you?

Baumann: Sports have been with me all my life. And when someone doesn't engage in sports, it hurts me. When I see someone in the city who's already panting after five flights of stairs, that means urgent action is needed. And if that's already the case with children, it's up to the parents to change that and show them how important daily exercise is. My father, for instance, was a heavy smoker. It was the same thing: climb one flight of stairs and then take a break.

Dombroksi: Does that still influence you today?

Baumann: I almost get envious and jealous when I see children who can do sports along with their parents, whether it's rollerblading, a bike ride, or the football pitch. I missed out on that, partly because my parents ran a hotel business and rarely had time for it. During my childhood, there was once a promise that we would run a marathon with my parents and my brother. It never materialized. Nevertheless, regarding my sport and talent, I was always encouraged by my parents and never slowed down. There's nothing more beautiful.

Dombroksi: Is smart-phone use in Bundesliga dressing rooms on the rise?

Baumann: With the young up-and-coming players, smart-phone use is enormously high. It's becoming that way with me too. That's a shame. And people are constantly checking who's streaming computer games and where. If they're not playing themselves, they're watching. Of course, we [footballers] definitely do enough sports in our occupation to compensate. Many young people don't get the sporting balance they need. Yet, sports have so many positive and enriching aspects.

Dombroksi: How much has changed in recent years?

Baumann: It's a different generation. You come into the locker room after the game and people's heads immediately glance downwards toward their phones. Of course, I look at my smart-phone sometimes. But not to see who's left me a comment on Instagram. Rather, [I check] to see if my wife has texted me. In Freiburg, it used to be forbidden to have your smart-phone in the locker room. You couldn't enforce that today. Sometimes I wish things could be more 'old school'.


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