We are expecting our first child, a girl, in September ’17. And, as I sit here reflecting on the oncoming train that is fatherhood, my thoughts converge around my work in innovation and technological trends — what kind of environment, society will my daughter grow up in? These are my musings on how the future will manifest in the life of my daughter.
My daughter is now 10 and we are headed to her first live sports match. She’s been harassing me for months, feeding me details about her favorite team and this slight but handsome player who has reflexes so fast everyone else seems to just be playing for second. I eventually relented.
As we walk down the concourse, jostling been a bevy of crazed fans and casual spectators, I reminisced about going to baseball games with my dad when I was her age. He used to get free tickets from work for the Anaheim Angels at the Big A. They weren’t very good at the time, consistently at the bottom of the standings, but I could hardly care less. It was about being at the stadium. And it was about being with my dad. I remember we would sit at the field level down the third base line, daytime game on a lazy weekend, basking in the dry heat of the California sun. We would have hotdogs and I would always be carrying my little glove, hoping to catch a fly ball. I don’t think I ever did. We were just like any other American father and son duo, taking in a game on a hot summer day.
We get to the turnstiles, the gates opening automatically as we approach, having read the purchased tickets off my cellphone’s Bluetooth signal and validated us with facial recognition. I squeeze my daughter’s hand tightly, reassuring her, as well as myself, that I’m there with her and we are about to have a great time together.
As we enter, the arena is still dark, a scattering of bright lights sporadically flashing about as thousands of young people are led to their seats by the app on their phone. I can see the teams gathering in the tunnel, preparing for their entrance. The raised stage is already set, screens standing at the ready, headphones and accessories lying casually next to them. While dreaming of the old-time tradition of baseball, here I am sucked into an e-sports event.
Twitchy fingers attached to skinny arms, bright eyes following images on a screen and daringly fast minuscule reflexes have replaced the strength, speed and grandiose dance of pitcher vs. batter from my day. But the same fervor of sports remains: the taste of excitement that’s palatable in the air, the ardor of rooting for your team and seeing them come out ahead, the sense of community you get amongst people of common interests and passions. It’s a beautiful thing, even if its the incessant clicking of keys instead of the sharp crack of a bat.
We settle down into our seats, snapping on our VR googles that put us in the scene along with the players. Suddenly cheers start to erupt all around us as the teams settle in and start to clash in their first battle. We switch between programmed views, getting closer and closer to the action. I just hitch along with whatever my daughter’s current view is so I don’t miss out on anything.
I pull down the goggles and glance down at her. She is absorbed in the moment, her darting eyes and cute ears absorbing each loud sound, each ephemeral experience whisking across her screen. “Dad, did you just see that move?” pointing where two characters are doing battle set against an expansive digital landscape, “The speed, the strategy… unbelievable,” she proclaims. I can only nod my head in agreement. I must have missed something.
I had always imagined the two of us going to games together, but in my mind it was always the traditional sports. I imagined us eating hotdogs and nachos as I explained the time-honored rules, statistics, and history of the game. Maybe she would even catch a fly ball. Instead, I’m here in this arena learning from her as she describes the makeup of each team, strengths and weaknesses, a detailed analysis of the characters, weapons and approach they use in their fights. How does she even know of all this?