Sports is a marvelous distraction

Published on:
September 18, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of bingeing on videos. I need something new to distract me from the endless litany of world-shaking events. Yeah, baseball has been with us since July, but despite fond memories of father-son bonding, it’s like watching paint dry (plus the Mariners are as hapless as ever). The NBA playoffs are exciting, but the off-court stories of pampered millionaires living in a bubble in Disneyland is a reality show that no Hollywood exec could dream up. The NHL (which is in the middle of its own playoffs) toils away in the background like the third child constantly looking for attention and approval. Golf, the ultimate socially distanced sport, has had a few tournaments, but, I’m sorry, it reminds me of my grandfather falling asleep to Vin Sculley’s whispered play-by-play. Tennis just had the US Open, which turned into a showcase of the next generation. Yet the biggest splash, the dinner guest everyone has been waiting for, finally arrived last weekend when the NFL kicked off (pun intended). Enter unabashed plug for my home team - Go Hawks!

There’s a lot in this country that divides us. And on the surface, you could make the case that sports divide us into camps, but they also unite us. Something we desperately need. Look. I’m a Dukie, Seahawk, Storm, Husky fan; which earns me animosity from all of America, all of California, LA/Minnesota, Oregon/USC/Stanford/AZ. This is not an exhaustive list. But I’d much rather be watching a game with fans from any of these teams than not watching at all. And even if you hate sports, the fact that they are now everywhere is a marvelous distraction.

Some thoughts for keeping it together in these times.

One thing to come out of this mess is a focus on things we can do to improve our physical and mental well-being. Many of these ideas will be useful long after this mess is behind us. One such idea is something that all of us, with a little practice, can do. It’s as simple as relaxing your muscles, one area at a time. I’m no scientist but as I understand it (I'm not making this up, there's a basis in science and, if that's not enough, yoga), this works by coaxing your brain to focus in the moment and ignore all of the thoughts that keep your mind racing. If you’re like me, you’ve tried to tell yourself to stop thinking about that stuff. Turns out your brain isn’t that obedient. But it is easily distracted. Give it a shot and don’t give up. It takes a little practice to convincingly deceive ourselves.

Now that school is back in session, it’s time to revisit how we cope. First off, plan ahead. Review the schedule once, twice, three times (forgive me Commodores). Second, make sure alarms are set, breakfast considered and an isolated study/online space prepared. Third, when school is on break, establish ground rules for moving around the house, and when and how you can be disturbed. Identify blocks of time when you shouldn’t be disturbed and communication protocols for emergencies. Fourth, don’t forge the flilpside. There should be time when you’re available and can engage. Finally, having said all of that, set expectations with colleagues and family alike that  you’re in a fluid environment. Chaos is inevitable so embrace it with good humor when it comes.

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share, please pass them on by replying to this email. Here are more tips on making the most of your time at home.

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