A Little Exercise In Priorities. . . Football vs. Family. . .

The NFL Playoffs are in full-swing. Last Sunday night, a friend who’s here in the U.S. from her home in Northern Ireland landed in Boston just before dinner. The friends who met her at Logan stopped for dinner at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Have you ever eaten there? You don’t just eat. You watch. The walls are plastered with big screen TVs of all sizes, all of them spewing sporting events to patrons. I can imagine that if you’ve never experienced such a thing before – just like my Irish friend – you’d be experiencing sensory overload the moment you walk through the front doors. That’s exactly what happened.

Whenever I step into a situation where I’ve got to somehow juggle more than one task at a time, it slows me down. Sure, I can eat a plate of wings, glance around at all the games, and, engage in meaningful conversation with my tablemates. But not really. Reality is that research is showing that our brains are unable to engage in more than one task simultaneously and do them all well. The traffic jam that occurs in the brain is called “dual task interference.” But we don’t like to believe the research, do we?

If you’ve been watching the NFL Playoffs again this weekend, chances are you’ve seen marketing’s latest attempt to lure us into multi-tasking. This time, it’s the Verizon ad my buddy Marv Penner brought to my attention. The ad offers a solution to the difficult task of navigating family life with our love for football. The net on this one, however, goes much wider than football. It’s really about reconciling family and any kind of screen time.

Sure, the ad is done in a light-hearted manner. But that’s simply a smoke-screen that softens the blow on an issue that should cause us to get a bit rattled.

When I was a young dad, I remember someone advising me on priorities. . . telling me “No man ever got to the end of his life and said, ‘I wish I had made more money, or played more golf, or worked a bit more on my lawn.’ Rather, there are many men who will say ‘I wish I had spent more time with my family.’ Don’t be that man.”

In today’s world, there’s a multitude of additional distractors out there pulling dads, moms, and kids apart from each other. That’s why I think this is an ad worth looking at, pondering, and talking about. To those of you who are dads and moms, use it as a form of self-evaluation. For those of you who are youth workers, this one’s worth pondering with your kids. . .

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