Beyond Athletics

How Phones Distract Athletes From Coaches And Teammates

student athletes on their phones distracted from their team
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(Flickr – Joris Louwes)

Do Snapchat and Twitter on their phones distract athletes from coaches and teammates?

Here in Chicago we are in the midst of – to put it mildly – a football rut. Currently 5-10 on the season, the Chicago Bears aren’t going to be bringing home any hardware this season. On top of it, starting quarterback Jay Cutler, the highest-paid player in the NFL, took to the bench last Sunday against the Detroit Lions while the Bears, in desperation and dismay, gave their second-string QB a shot.

There are constant reports of players arguing in the locker room, even coaches taking to the media to express frustrations and negativity surrounding certain players. The team culture of the Chicago Bears is a mess.

How did it get this bad? New coach, promising quarterback with a hefty salary, enough key veterans returned – what gives? Chris Krause, our founder and CEO, recently sat down with Tom Thayer, former Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bear, (the two also happen to be best friends), who had some insight on the topic and explained how team dynamics have changed over the years – and it’s not just with the Bears.

Thayer explained that the use of technology and social media has negatively affected the way team building used to naturally occur in the locker room:

“Teamwork is not built in team meetings, it’s built in the down time,” he said. “And in today’s world, the minute a guy leaves a meeting or gets on a plane or on a bus with the team, he’s on his cell phone. Mentoring opportunities are left by the wayside because everyone is in their own world with the prevalence of technology in daily life. There are little-to-no circumstances where raw-connections can be fostered or facilitated anymore due to cell phones and social media.

“When I was a player, we had no choice but to rely on one another to stay occupied when we were on the road or in the clubhouse. We would talk, play cards, tell jokes, and naturally get to know one another because there was really nothing else to do, and there wasn’t the outside distraction that cell phones and social media bring to the table.

“It’s so necessary for rookies and other guys to share in the experience and support of the guys who have been in their shoes, and too many teams just aren’t creating and developing that environment anymore. Everyone is connected to the internet, and in turn, completely disconnected from one another.”

There wasn’t the outside distraction that cell phones and social media bring to the table.

As a technology-based company, this point hit pretty close to home. While there are so many advantages of cell phones, social media, and other gadgets, it’s important to power off every once-and-a-while – especially when it comes to your team and your families.

With most of us having just wrapped-up a fall season, in the middle of winter season, or looking ahead to the spring, let’s use technology for the greater good – and at the appropriate time – when it comes to the attention we’re giving our friends and teammates. Similarly, when you’re with your family over the holiday break, be conscientious of the attention you’re choosing to give them, and the break your thumbs deserve!

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About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.