Thursday, July 18, 2019

Parents, Put Down the Smartphones

  Anyone who has ever picked up a stick is probably familiar with The Great One’s proclamation that, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Hockey savant though he may be, Wayne Gretzky didn’t utter that line in the age of Smartphones and iPads. Were one to update those words, he or she might have to append it with – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take … because you were staring down at your screen.”
            West Seneca, N.Y. hockey dad James Colby is one of too many parents who have fallen victim to the digital days of our lives and had been checking his phone from the stands. “Sadly, I did this last week, said Colby.
“I wanted to take a video of my 2010 playing. Took it. Then a shift change happened. I started playing on social media, missed his next shift when he scored a goal. Never again. Phone goes away from here on out!”
            Great Falls, Montana hockey mom Paula Hinsz Walker's job required being on call 24 hours a day. After her son took notice of her on the phone in the stands, she changed her ways.
“I would only take it out between periods while they were in the locker room. I didn't think my son noticed when I was on my phone, but when he commented on it, it broke my heart."
There are, of course, exceptions to parents who appear to be tuned out in the stands, as Bagley, Minnesota hockey mom Sheena Ysen points out.  She asks parents not to judge others. 
"We have no idea why a parent may be on their phone. Maybe they have a job that they are on call for.  Maybe they have a sick child at home with a babysitter or a relative in the hospital.”
While there may be legitimate reasons to use that Smartphone in the stands, there unfortunately are others putting phones ahead of their kids, ignoring what's happening on the ice in favor of their mobile device.  
            College hockey mom Debbie Amato, from DeLand, Florida never missed watching her son in the net and has a message for digitally distracted dads and moms, "Cherish every moment, and wake up Moms and Dads. Before you know, he or she is gone."
Our phone dependence may indeed be a symptom of our busy lives, but there’s no reason not to be smart about our Smartphones, and create some healthy cellular boundaries in our children's arenas. Arizona goalie mom blogger Sharon Enck could tweet penalites, goals and saves with lightning speed,  but it soon became obvious she needed to take in the game and report on it later. "Nothing is worse than having your player ask you " Did you see that ___?" when you didn't even notice. Wait until intermission or better yet at the end of the game, because no news, video, or social media feed is that important. The only thing that needs to be lightning fast during the game is your player on the ice, or their glove hand."
            I can remember one game where my daughter, Sophia, asked me to get my phone ready. In this instance, I knew exactly what she meant.
This was the game she was going to help a teammate finally score that elusive goal, her first of the season.
I positioned myself right behind the net, and sure enough, there it was.  My cellphone camera was rolling, and caught that sweet tape-to-tape pass to her younger teammate.
And then came the “celly.”
Big and beautiful. More precious than I could have imagined.
But as I choked back the tears and looked up in the stands – hoping to catch the eyes of the younger teammate's mom – our eyes never met.
Her’s were once again glued to her phone.
About ten minutes later, I felt a tap on the shoulder and a horrified look on the face of the mom, "O-M-G. Did you get it?!?"
While she may have missed that shot, I scored with my camera shot – at least in this instance.
But going forward, that mom left her phone in her pocket during games … and saw 100% of the goals.