I went to watch my youngest cousin play a tournament at twin creeks last year prior to him starting high school and there were 13 year old ball players chasing butterflys and walking on and off the diamond like teeballers instead of hustling to their position like a devil possessed. At that age I was taking groundballs by the shopping cart with a wallmart teeball glove as hard as DS3 could hit them at me because when I played against kids my age with my game glove I could catch everything. DS3 and I used to hunt for the worst infields in town because if I could pick those bad hops then playing on the infields of the West Catholic League was like fielding on carpet. My nose is still crooked to this day and I had three separate ER trips from the dirt infields of Columbus Park.
The part that I see in the youth of today which I believe has matriculated through the young softball players is they don't want to hit 500 balls a day with a purpose like I was taught and gave credit to you for. They don't want to take ground balls until they burn holes in 5 separate rawlings heart of the hide gloves a year and keep the 6th for games only. I used to break my gloves in at Fontenttis in the 90 mph cage with no helmet standing dead center over the plate.
I used to hit bp with wood bats only because you had to get the hand eye part down or you would snap your bat or sting the living hell out of them. But now whether baseball or softball everyone wants the biggest barrel possible to where they can mishit a ball 350. When I was still playing softball like I've said before I hit bp with single wall short barrels. and have never swung a bat in a slow pitch game with a barrel longer than 12 inches and the biggest endload I can find. Now young players want 14 inch barrels in 25 ounces.
So now for the part you don't want anyone to tell you about videos games. You are correct that they play youth and high school ball on a real field. How many of those kids have practiced until their hands bleed and become calloused from repetition after repetition? How many of those kids have walked around with laces imprinted on their body for over a week from taking one off the forearm or chest to keep it in front of them because they wanted it that bad.
The truth is you're right they PLAY ball. They don't live it, walk it, breath it like their life depends on it. They don't crave it like a drug. I hung it up because I have family obligations that don't allow me the time to both play and take care of my obligations. With that being said just last night I had my stepson pitch me balls in the backyard because we live on 3 acres in the foothills and I still can't walk by a bat without swinging it.
The true ball players both with regards to youth sports and the younger generation of softball players will never change, we're like crack addicts wanting one more pitch or one more ground ball, we toss the pitches we didn't swing at to back to our friend to finish the bag of balls and you have to pry us out of the box. But that mindset is fading and people want to play grabass now instead of perfecting their craft. Until that mindset changes the glory days are gone.