You’ve probably seen one by now: A picture of an intensely focused ski racer arcing past a cluster of spectators, all of whom have their attention fixed not on the racer, but on a little “smart” screen. They’re probably not looking at a vital message from a loved one or a work emergency. No, they are probably looking at Live-Timing, checking the seconds of the kid ahead of the kid they are all now ignoring.
As a coach, my usual position on race day is at the start, where everyone is full of optimism and energy. There is little time for anything but turning screws, cleaning boots and getting psyched — which, for those of us challenged at multitasking, keeps it a Live-Timing-free zone. As a parent, I find this enforced disconnect is a gift.
Don’t get me wrong — I am a huge fan of Live-Timing. In the old days, “live timing” was someone’s mother who shuffled from the timing shack and into the crowd of expectant racers to transcribe the latest batch of times onto the scoreboard. Live-Timing did away with that emotionally fraught finish line ritual. The universally accessible real-time scoreboard also ushered in a host of freedoms. No more guesswork on when to make your way to the start. No need for detailed phone reports at the end of a long day. It gives faraway family and friends a way to follow the races, and affords absent parents a heads-up on the prevailing mood to expect upon homecoming. Heck, it even lifts the burden of performing basic math.
But, as with many modern conveniences, this one offers up potential abuse, particularly by Live-Timing Parents, who have become overinvested in their children’s results. Like many traits, overinvestment is often hard to recognize in oneself…
This is just an except. For a list of red flags for overinvested parents and how to use Live-Timing to your best advantage, read the entirety of ‘Racer Next’ in Issue 4 of our digital magazine here.