COLUMN: Look up and focus on the contest

Technology is a wonderful product with what seems like limitless possibilities.

We, as a society, have come a long way since start-up Internet, only having three channels available, flip phones, sliders, etc. It’s also wonderful for everything, including sports.

Remember when you had to turn your television sets to a specific time to watch a sports program? Now, people can easily watch replays with DVRs and other means. Shoot, you really don’t have to watch the entire game anymore. You can easily access highlights from a sporting event and skip through all the boring stuff.

In the same sense, technology is hurting sports. Although some people may enjoy just watching highlights (and I don’t blame them if they have family needs or job requirements that prevent them from tuning in), I have to watch the whole show. Sometimes I can only view highlights, but it’s not the same.

That’s the least of my worries when it comes to technology in sports. The main problem is people not being able to take their minds off of social media and focus on what’s in front of them.

The most recent example comes from an NBA first-round playoff game between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia’s Amir Johnson and Joel Embiid were caught on camera looking at a text message from Johnson’s phone DURING THE GAME! This is ridiculous.

Apparently, the explanation behind the matter is that Johnson’s child is ill and he wanted to see an update. Just wait until after the game, man. There were only like six minutes remaining. People don’t have patience anymore, but that’s another topic for another day.

How idiotic must someone be to do that on a national telecast? Don’t he and Embiid know there are numerous cameras around the arena that could possibly catch it? Even if the cameras didn’t, an audience member easily could have pulled his or her phone out and taken video of it themselves.

Johnson was fined for the matter, but he should be suspended. Granted he’s only a bench warmer, but he needs to be taught a harder lesson. If he wasn’t suspended because it’s the playoffs and the 76ers could need him down the road, that is not a good excuse. A lot of athletes can may take a chance of being caught and just getting a slap on the wrist.

If Johnson’s child is that seriously sick, then just ask for a leave of absence. Yes, it is the playoffs, but your child is way more important than anything else in the world — or they should be, at least. He could have somebody sitting a row or two behind him feed him updates during the game. That would’ve been fine.

The point of all of this is that Johnson’s focus was not on his team or the game. I blame technology more than anything because Johnson had it in the palm of his hand.

Social media, video games and anything else you can think of takes the focus away from anybody. Those involved in a sporting event must learn to put his or her precious phone, tablet, etc. down for a few hours and enjoy what’s in front of them.

Can you imagine a high school kid reading text messages during a game, let’s say baseball or softball since it’s that time of the year? If it’s a strong-minded coach, that person should be kicked out of the dugout. If it happens more than once, kick them off the team.

It’s amazing with all that is available at the palm of our hands that it is becoming virtually impossible to keep focus on what’s going on when you lift your head up. I hope that I never get to witness this.

On to another subject involving technology with sports, I miss the good old days of watching people write down game stats with a pencil and paper. It still occurs, but many are switching over to the likes of GameChanger and others.

Don’t get me wrong, GameChanger is great for many reasons. It’s easy to send one e-mail to multiple people and media outlets when a game concludes. That means coaches don’t have to call numerous people to give the same information multiple times.

The main problem, at least the main issue we face, is that GameChanger costs money. And, if somebody has a free account like us, we don’t get everything from that game. We only get a few stats. Basically, if four children from the same team hit a home run, there’s a chance we only see one, two or three marked with an HR and not the others.

For any coach reading this, if you have GameChanger, please send us screen shots from everything taken down. Those from Indian Creek, Oak Glen and Edison do this already, but not everybody.

Believe it or not, some coaches do call us. Toronto baseball and softball, Weir High softball, Catholic Central baseball, Brooke softball and Buckeye Local baseball and softball (just to name a few) do this on a gamely basis. Madonna baseball texts us a box score, and it’s not through the GameChanger format, so we see everything. Same thing for Brooke baseball, only it sends an email and not a text.

As you can see, there are positives and negatives with GameChanger. A huge negative is that I don’t believe those who use GameChanger during the game know how to properly fill out a box score on paper. If somebody doesn’t care to learn how to do it the old fashioned way, then it won’t bother them. But, I will say that it is a nice skill to always have with you.

What’s going to happen if somebody’s tablet gets ruined and that’s the only one available? How will they tally the stats? Good luck.

It just baffles me how dependent we are on technology. Personally, I only need a note pad when covering a game, mainly because it’s hard to hold a scorebook and shoot photos at the same time.

Paper and pencils, those will never lose battery power or cost a lot of money.


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