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Things were different back in my day

Bob Dylan once wrote that &#8220the times are a changing” and, although I have only been around a quarter of a century, I can see how right he was.

With Christmas gifts like the new Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 topping out at around $600 this year, I shudder to think what the new, hot item will be next year.

When I was young, gifts of that magnitude, and price, were completely out of the question.

My parents worked too long and too hard to spoil us with such lavish gifts that would only leave us in the house for hours at a time.

Back in my day, we didn't have portable devices to keep us occupied for hoursŠ and we liked it!

In fact, gifts kids used to receive are fading like yesterday's news and are being replaced with items so technically challenging that it takes a Ph.D just to get it to work.

For those parents who are still looking for a great sports gift for their children for the holidays, here are a few suggestions of the greatest sports gifts that can be given.

Basketball

While the prices of basketballs have soared tremendously over the last 25 years, the joy of getting one has not.

Basketball prices now range anywhere from $25-$60, but the price is worth the investment.

Of course, you can't play basketball without a goal, which have also become expensive, but those too can be acquired reasonably.

For those without a goal, a basketball is still a good idea because it can be dribbled and passed for hours on end.

Kids are getting fatter by the day and a basketball is the perfect way to get them outside and get them interested in a team sport.

Baseball and glove

Next to golf, baseball has become one of the most expensive sports to outfit your children for, but then again, it is America's pastime and the greatest sport.

The prices for bats and gloves are off the charts these days, but baseballs are still a reasonable buy for any child.

A dozen baseballs can run anywhere from $20-$30, while a glove can run you anywhere from $70-$200.

Although glove prices are steep, the good news is you don't need a new one often because a broken in glove is as comforting as the cool side of a pillow.

Having a ball and a glove gives kids an opportunity to play catch and get outside during every month of the year.

If you are a dad and haven't played catch with your son or vice versa, now is the perfect time to change that.

Football

Growing up in the state of Alabama, it was a necessity to have a football at all times.

You can't live in a state where football is God and not own a football.

Whether it was a smaller football with a team logo on it, a Nerf football or a regulation size one, a game could break out anywhere at any moment when you had a pigskin with you.

Also, if you've never gotten the family together for a game of touch football during the holidays, now is the time to start.

Going out for a game on brisk December afternoon is something you will never forget.

There is nothing wrong with getting video games and gaming systems for your child during the holidays, but those short-term joys will soon be obsolete as technology advances.

When I got an Atari and then a Nintendo when I was young, it was unbelievable to see the advancement of technology.

But soon, those games got old and the inside of a house became as confining as a jail cell.

Getting outside and participating in team sports is something we can all enjoy, especially as a child.

So this Christmas, do something that will really benefit you or your child by getting outdoors and throwing the ol' ball (basketball, baseball or football) around.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com