A couple weeks ago, I posted an article in reaction to the news that the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals now allows his players to take “phone breaks” during their team meetings.
“You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking, and you know they need to get that social media fix,” he helpfully explained.
If you’re one of the many readers who joined me in thinking this move was a shortsighted capitulation, I’m hoping to help improve your mood by sharing some uplifting counter programming from the world of college basketball.
As reported by Time, earlier this season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders suffered a bad stretch during which they lost three road games in a row.
Looking for solutions, their captain, Norense Odiase, instituted a new rule: the night before away games, players would surrender their smartphones. The idea was to minimize distractions and improve sleep.
The team’s coach, Chris Beard, who had already banned smartphones at team meals, liked this idea and extended it even further: the phone ban held every night while the team was on the road, whether or not there was a game the next day.
Texas Tech went on a 14-1 run after the ban, eventually making it all the way to Monday’s national championship game.
It’s possible, of course, that I’m too quick to connect the basic principles of digital minimalism with sports success, but there’s at least one well-known athlete on my side.
A few days ago, at his pre-tournament press conference, golfer Rory McIlroy, the odds-on favorite to win The Masters this weekend, was asked about the rule at the Augusta National golf course that forbids smartphones (around 21:30 in the above video).
“It’s refreshing,” McIlroy said, noting that “there’s something to learn from that.” He then cited what’s got him thinking about these issues, explaining: