Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Thumb Drive

The thing you have to realize as a parent is that kids – especially teenagers – are genetically programmed to argue with you. It is basically their job, and they will never stop and they will never tire. They will argue with you continuously until you actually die of starvation and they will still be going strong. They are like little arguing robots with an infinite loop nonsense-generating algorithm and a small onboard nuclear reactor for power.

This is tolerable for the seasoned parent when they choose to argue with you about their hair, or their bedtime, or the laughable idea of getting a cat. We can deal with that stuff. The problems arise when they try to defend utterly ridiculous positions on important topics such as professional sports.

These arguments cannot be tolerated by the responsible parent, because we are tasked with eventually sending them out into the world to do good and be smart. If they leave the house with the idiotic notion that playing a football video game and playing an actual football game are even remotely similar to each other, then we have failed them, ourselves, and society at large. We can’t have that.

Case in point – yesterday at the beach. We are on spring break from their rigorous schedule this year of staying home from school, so we decided to pack up and head for the beach to visit their grandma. She was nice enough to get a friend who happens to be a retired professional surfer to give Son Number Two a surf lesson yesterday.

He did really well and spent a couple hours out in the surf, paddling his butt off, missing waves, falling off, getting rolled, choking on salt water, and occasionally catching a wave and standing up to surf it. We were proud of him.

As we were packing up to leave, we watched and laughed as a guy standing on shore near the water was putting on a little show. He had a small motorized remote-controlled surfboard, about a foot long, with a little plastic surfer riding on top. It was zipping around out in the water surfing up and down the waves. When it crashed, it just popped right back up and kept zipping around.

Apparently, there are quite a few folks who have these little things, and they get together and hold surf contests. Son Number One, who had decided not to try surfing and instead sat on the beach for two hours, then amazingly attempted to make the argument that actual surfing and remote-control toy surfing were almost indistinguishable from each other in skill level.

I had been out in the water for a couple hours too, so I was tired and my head was cold, but I still managed to nearly roll my eyes out of my skull. As I began to open my mouth to set him straight, the sheer insanity of his position triggered a repressed memory from three days earlier on the drive down to the beach.

Somewhere on Interstate 5, Son Number One made the ridiculous claim that me watching professional athletes play sports on TV was exactly the same as him watching YouTubers play video games with each other.

“Because it just isn’t and that is just super obvious” was, of course, not a good enough reason for his little, non-functioning teenage brain.

This was not one of those arguments that I could just let go, because as we discussed earlier, I would be failing all of humanity if I produce a working-age human who thinks this way.

He continued spouting his ridiculous, mind-numbing arguments for why being a professional athlete was totally the exact same thing as being something he called a “professional gamer.”

I quickly got to the point of almost not being able to keep the car on the road due to the mental anguish I was experiencing from the conversation, even though I-5 is probably the straightest freeway in America. I needed to stop the conversation, for the safety of the whole family.

I settled on this: “Getting out of bed when everything hurts to go again. That’s the difference.”

“But when you lose at Fortnite for the hundredth time in a row, it’s the same thing to go back and try again!”

“Oh, my God, you’re just using your thumbs! Shut up!”

“You use more than your thumbs, dad.”


The conversation on the beach didn’t go much better.

I don’t know what worries me more – the fact that kids these days aren’t making a distinction between actual sports and “e-sports,” the fact that kids actually spend their time watching other kids play video games, or the fact that they probably all think that’s the same thing as watching people play an actual sport.

And Son Number One is only a couple of years from going off to college. We obviously still have a lot of work to do to get him ready to go out into the world.

Speaking of colleges, the situation with this e-sports nonsense is far more dire than you might think. Did you know there are actually colleges that are offering scholarships for e-sports?

And I’m not talking about ITT Tech, either. Formerly respectable institutions like Ohio State University, Hawaii Pacific, University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of California at Irvine all offer some level of scholarship for you to come there and play video games.

Arcadia University in Glenside, PA actually has a $25,000 scholarship for e-sports! Can you believe tha…

Wait, what? Twenty-five grand?

Hey, son, how are you at something called League of Legends? I’ve been hearing great things about Pennsylvania these days…

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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