How Little League Could Improve the “User Experience”: 12 Tips

Someday when my son is lying on his shrink’s couch recounting the many ways I’ve screwed up his parenting, I will point to this blog as proof positive that I actually attended some of his Little League games. How else would I have snapped this photo? Attending these games is typically Dave’s duty, but since he’s out of town, I’m stepping up to the plate (see what I did there?). I pray this Little League season ends before his San Antonio trip next weekend!

75, partly sunny, and a mild breeze– the only perfect weather Little League game of this season.

All of you User Experience (UX) experts out there, please apply your mad skills to improving Little League for the parents. The Sister Wives crack up at my total lack of interest in children’s sporting and performance events (but if Jack were playing indoor tennis or volleyball, this would be different) but as of today, my sports ennui is bordering on sheer hatred.

This morning’s Chicagoland shit show–a Little League game in 48-degree weather with pouring rain–was the final nail in my sports attendee coffin. There is no good reason, in my mind, to make parents and their children suffer like that. For those of us with hypothyroidism, that is, the majority of us living in the “goiter belt,” recovering from being over-chilled takes forever.

As I sat there fuming–for the 10 minutes I lasted on the cold, aluminum bleacher bench before retreating to the car and watching the game through binoculars–ach, who am I kidding? I don’t own binoculars. Anyhow, as I sat there fuming and attempting to text my displeasure to the Sister Wives and my friend Lisa with my 1 bar of AT&T signal, I began compiling a list of ways we could all improve the UX, from my perspective. Your results may vary. Soccer and lacrosse parents, feel free to borrow.

  1. Games should only occur on days when it is partially sunny and 75 with a slight breeze, and never on Mother’s Day or other holidays. And they should be scheduled for after 10 a.m., within 5 minutes of home.
  2. The concession stand should have indoor seating–aesthetically pleasing–and be sponsored by Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or some hot beverage company of that ilk.
  3. The bleachers should have a clear, protective roof that doesn’t attract heat (this would also protect against the liability of being hit in the head by a foul ball, while I’m busily reading my phone and not watching the game)
  4. Cushioned seating with a back rest would be even better than aluminum bleachers.
  5. Even better? A cabana I could share with friends, like the ones in Las Vegas surrounding the pool, that would perhaps have a fire pit in the middle for making s’mores as we “watch” the game.
  6. There should be an app developed to vibrate and nudge me when my child is actually doing something interesting on the field.
  7. A wait staff taking orders from the parents would be a nice improvement – sort of like the local iPic movie theater in South Barrington I so adore with the gourmet sliders.
  8. Cocktails. Bloody Marys for the morning games, Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandies for the evening games.
  9. A covered pathway back to my vehicle would be great–my clothing from this a.m.’s total drenching is still in the dryer.
  10. A televised game I could watch from the comfort of my warm bed and never leave the house would also be a nice option.
  11. Joining a league with Matthew McConaughey or Peter Dinklage’s children, so I could steal more surreptitious glances than Jack steals home plate…that could make me not mind it all so much.
  12. To add insult to this morning’s injury, Jack’s dirt-caked uniform from his slide into 3rd base–right as the game was being called due to rain–stained the powder-gray cloth upholstery in the car. So…this got me thinking an on-site car detailing service might not be a bad idea. Also, a baseball uniform cleaning service, delivered to my front door, would be much appreciated (the domestic goddess that I am not placed a panicked call to Sister Wife Maura for advice on getting the dirt stains out of Jack’s uniform).

P.S. After the game, we drove through that same McDonald’s I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. The Arby’s subterfuge agent was no longer working the drive’ thru’ window.

If you have any ideas to add to this groundbreaking list, feel free to add your comments!

 

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Lesson Learned: Don’t Ever Say The Chicago Blackhawks “Made a Point!”

Marovich and I played our first round of tennis last night for this season. It felt so good. We decided to serve and volley for the cardio, rather than play out actual points…except that Marovich couldn’t stick to the script…she cannot resist abruptly ending a great back-and-forth volley with one of her decisive killer shots. Sadly, in neither racquetball nor tennis is my 1.5″ height advantage over her 5’4″ Mighty Mouse physique any advantage at all.

Tennis Bitches

Tennis Bitches–We belong on a Wheaties box!

Post-tennis, Marovich tried schooling me on hockey, since our Chicago Blackhawks are once again in the Stanley Cup play-offs, and we were watching the game. “They made a point!” I squealed, caught up in the excitement of the last minutes of the tight game. Marovich’s head whipped around faster than Regan in The Exorcist, scowling at me in disgust and shaking her head. “Promise me you will never utter those words again. They scored a goal.” My sports vernacular is sorely lacking, but at least I didn’t ask “How many quarters are there in a game?” like her brother Joe once did, which I brought up right away, attempting to make myself look like less of an idiot. It feels like for the past several months the Blackhawks been in some form of play-offs, and every time I specifically asked, “So when do they actually play for the Stanley Cup???” Marovich would deliver this long-winded explanation of all of the play-off games and series they’d have to complete…with my ADD, it was forming this confusing, infinite M.C. Escher painting in my mind’s eye, and sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s muffled teacher…I think there was something in there about having to sacrifice albino virgins during high tide in a harvest moon. I know nothing about hockey, but I did have my Blackhawks brush with greatness back in the early ’90s when the Hawks were playing for the Stanley Cup. Blackhawks player Chris Chelios lived in the same Oak Brook neighborhood where I was working out of Jan Gabriel‘s home, writing and producing motorsports TV series, “The Super Chargers.” Jan even shared the same cleaning lady, so I knew which house was Chelios’. (She steadfastly refused my requests to steal a pair of his boxers.) The morning after they lost the Stanley Cup, I drove past Chelios’ home and there was this guy passed out on his front porch. I was actually concerned he might be dead, so I pulled over, got out of my car, and poked at his unconscious body with my foot. He stirred a little, and I recognized who he was, and that he was just drunk. I rolled him over so he wouldn’t aspirate on his own vomit (Hey, with my anxieties, SPINAL TAP is a cautionary tale).  The snoring carbon life form was one of Chelios’ Blackhawks team mates, who shall remain nameless. I didn’t follow the Blackhawks too closely after that, but perhaps my random act of kindness was some sort of tipping point, like George Bailey saving his brother from drowning, or preventing the grieving pharmacist Gower from that deadly pill prescription error in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ll never know… and I’ll never know sports speak without the benefit of Marovich’s incessant, stern coaching.

Dave Dorman: Assistant Football Coach

Yesterday, against the backdrop of Chicago Bears 1985 Super Bowl champion quarterback Jim McMahon discussing his early onset dementia from playing football (he’s in the class action suit v. the NFL) Dave Dorman not just insisted, but demanded that we spend the $500 to sign Jack up for football. Fireworks erupted over the Dorman household yesterday morning as I was scrambling to get out the door to chef Ina Pinkney’s cooking demonstration and book signing.

Dave Dorman assistant coaching Jack's team 2 years ago.

Dave Dorman assistant coaching Jack’s team 2 years ago.

Football is a sport I not only vehemently dislike because of the potential for lifelong lasting injury, I don’t understand it at all, and I have zero interest in ever understanding it. It’s boring to watch (unless it’s 1985 and The Fridge is making a touchdown), and given my penchant for personal comfort, the last thing you’ll find me doing at 8 a.m. on a Saturday is sitting on a hard, cold aluminum bleacher seat and freezing my ass off to watch a sport I despise.

Add to this the practices Jack is required to attend three times a week from 6 to 8 p.m. until November, and the games every Saturday, and this is really starting to destroy any semblance of a sane family schedule. As Jack enters fourth grade, homework will only increase in magnitude and difficulty. I’d prefer he get his college scholarships from his 95% percentile grades (which are sure to dip from this stupid practice schedule) than from a volatile sport where an injury could sideline him in a flash and end his college money. Why can’t he just be a nerd? Nerds don’t need organized sports to do well in life.

While Dave never watches professional sports – an attribute I love – he did win the first Maryland state championship for high school football–and scrimmaged against the team from Remember the Titans–so he remembers his glory days, choosing to ignore the physical and emotional pain of his torn-up knee during the Homecoming game his senior year, which ended his college scholarships.

Clearly, testosterone was behind inventing football, wrestling, boxing, licking toads, The Three Stooges, the way Michael Hutchence died, eggs Danny Thomas-style, and other stupidities in which people engage. Here’s how I imagine it went down:

Football inventor: “Hey, let’s invent a sport where we go beat the shit out of each other!”

Football inventor’s yes man: “Yes! Let’s do that!”

Someone with actual balanced thinking–probably a left-handed person–invented TENNIS. TENNIS requires skill. Finesse. Strategy. And TENNIS is the only sport for which I’d sit on a hard, cold aluminum bleacher seat at 8 a.m. on a Saturday and freeze my ass off to watch our son partake in it.