Rahn and the girls had gone skiing last weekend and arrived home on MLK holiday, while I had spent most the day in bed resting up. Grace insisted that she had eaten healthy since our New Year’s Resolution – which was for the family to eat healthier, and I agreed to go get a not so healthy lunch for everyone. Gaby texted me everyone’s order. When I arrived at In-N-Out Burger on Hegenberger the line for the drive through was so long I went in to order. I sat on the bench in front of the counter to wait for our order when two high-school aged boys sat down next to me. Of course, they were doing something on one of their phones. Then a third sits down and squeezes in next to me to check out the other kid’s phone.
Me, being me, says, “You just wanted to sit close to me, didn’t you?”
All three laughed and he replied, “We are watching a play, I just wanted to see it, do you have enough room?” He was very polite and I was just happy he didn’t end the question with “Ma’am.”
Well, these three boys piqued my interest and I asked them what play they were watching. They very graciously and openly responded sharing the details with me. They all played football and they were watching a play on Hudl sent by one of their coaches. I asked where they went to school and they each named three different east bay high schools. They proceeded to tell me that they get plays sent by their coaches and they can dialogue and that their coaches can highlight certain parts of the film to deliver instructions to individual players or the team. I could not help but share with them that referees do the same type of sharing of plays and use video review for training and development. I also explained ref-ology’s Interact and how we use this to explore not only the accuracy of plays, mechanics and rules administration but for a group of referees, who often barely know each other, to work synergistically and share thought process, mindset and experiences so everyone can learn and move our profession forward! Especially since the next generation of athletes is watching plays and doing the same at a very young age.
I was so impressed with these three young men that I asked them if they wanted to see a play I just happened to be watching. They looked at me and without hesitation, said “sure.” I showed them a missed Flagrant 1 foul from my game the day before and it was enlightening to watch them debate their thoughts on the play. They all agreed it was a dirty play and that no player should do that in a game. They commented on how sneaky the player was who did it. Simply, they all stated, “not cool.”
Next, I showed them another play that took place the day before involving a close friend and long-time colleague. I wanted to know their take on the situation. We watched a play that had taken place in a Division I Men’s game where one of the referee’s was intentionally tripped by a player (see article and clip at the bottom of blog post).
They were shocked and all three called over their other friend to watch the play. Again, they all replied “not cool,” and in football terms they explained the football incident in Texas where the referee got clipped. They continued a conversation among themselves about a few other incidents they knew about regarding violence in sports, and they included me in this discussion. Listening to them was refreshing. They “get it” and understand that under no circumstances should anyone ever lose their cool like that, not in life – and especially not in sports. These teenagers showed nothing but respect for me, sports, referees, players and each other that day!
My undying faith in our youth was instantly renewed in those 5 minutes with those 4 high school football players from different east bay schools. One also played basketball. He looked familiar and I mentioned I was one of the refs in the summer league at O’Dowd. He then recognized me as he plays for one of the schools that is part of the league.
Of course, they were all invited to come train at one of the ref-ology events next summer! I hope they take advantage of the offer!
All our food was ready and before we departed, I shared with them how impressed I was that not only are they student-athletes, but also for being students of the game they play. Lastly, I applauded them for their keen awareness that violence towards officials, or other players, in any sport was unacceptable and that they each demonstrated the making of true leaders – a true tribute for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day.
I believe the generation categorized as “entitled” (i.e. Millennials) will be surpassed very soon by a group of amazing people who will restore the hard-work ethic to the workforce – however, they will bring hard-work back with a twist. The Generation Z is proving to be a group that not only uses technology seamlessly but they seem to have the ability to think beyond themselves. They can still engage in a high-level conversation with confidence and employ critical thinking strategies to real-world situations. They will take “working smart” to the next level. In my opinion, they are defining the “intelligently working-hard ethic” and I am enjoying experiencing my own daughters as part of this Generation Z, showing this Gen X’er how it should be done!
Take the opportunity, any chance you get, to engage this newest generation in conversation and don’t forget to ask their opinion – they are very wise.
Here’s the “Not Cool” article and video, if you haven’t seen it: