Why We Talkin’ ‘Bout Practice?


My immediate reaction to Get Off The Phone, Soccer Parents | BlogHer was to be defensive at being called a “jerk” for using my smartphone while my kids are practicing their sport. I was defensive because the blogger commented that she had with her a book to read. Seems kinda hypocritical to me to diss someone for doing something other than watching their kid practice if you yourself brought something else to do during practice it’s just that that something else is more acceptable to you.

One — People may be reading a book on their smartphone. I use the Kindle for iPhone app to read books on my phone or will read blogs (like BlogHer) in my Google Reader via the phone.

Two — if a person is texting (one of the thing the writer criticize: “Thumbs are flying and smiles spread over their faces as they continue to communicate with their digital world that they’ve brought with them to the soccer field”) it’s possible they are texting a parent who is not at practice about the practice. At a recent practice that David couldn’t make I texted “Finn is trying out for catcher,” so he was able to share in the practice despite not being there. Or maybe they’re making plans for who’s going to pick up dinner or so on. We live in a world where communication and real life can and do co-exist and not at the cost of the other.

This has been something I have had to learn, and not learned easily and am still learning, in fact. I used to (and sometimes still have to be conscientious about it) criticize David for using his phone while we were at some event, claiming that you can’t be in two different places, that one suffers in deference to the other. There is some truth to that, but I think there’s contextual considerations that have to be weighed as well. I struggle with being a hypocrite in this area myself but tried/trying to do better.

Also, it’s practice. Practice. I’m reminded of the Allen Iverson “Practice” news conference (link). “We talkin’ about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. Practice.” Neglecting to watch your child’s game in deference to reading a book (whether real or via electronic device) or texting would be a bad thing for a parent to do, I think. At that point your child and their team has worked hard to learn and finesse their skills and now this is what it’s all about. When I learned piano as a kid my parents often sat in the car during the 30 minute lesson. Some parents chose to sit in on the lesson; that was their prerogative. I, personally, didn’t care about my mom hearing me practice and could actually do better at the lesson without her there. But at my recital? Yes, that is the time to give me your attention.

I take my boys to baseball practice and I get them set up with their gear and then I sit either in the car (if it’s cold, like it has been lately) or in a chair near the field and I read a book. I look up occasionally to see how they’re doing, to see what they’re working on, if they’re behaving/listening to coach, to assess things they may need to work on more at home or need encouragement in. And then I read in my book and kinda bounce back and forth between keeping an eye on practice and reading my book. I think that’s OK. If a parent wants to watch the practice, that’s OK too. But don’t fault other parents for not having the same passion you have about your child’s practice or for allowing their child to practice with their team and it be just about that.

On game day — my book will stay at home and I’ll be proudly cheering on my boys and their teammates. Until then, I’m very content letting them enjoy their activity and have a good time with their teammates while I enjoy relaxing to a book to the background noise of their happy sounds.

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