Swimming & Gaming - What a Mix!


Little Lewie has officially been taking swim lessons for over six years.  Year one was at the YMCA, year two was at Post University and the Colonial Tavern, year three was at the Jewish Community Center, and the last three years have been with a private swim school called Noah's Ark.

Out of all of Lewie's swim experiences, Noah's Ark has been the best.  For one, they never hold classes with more than four students at a time, and their semi-private lessons, which we did for the first two years, were reasonably priced.  Still, there was another reason why we stayed for so long and that was Lewie's swim teacher, Mr. Vinny.

Unlike Little Lewie's past swim teachers that acted more like drill sergeants, Mr. Vinny's style was gentle, patient, and playful.  He let Lewie learn at his own speed, and Lewie quickly discovered that if he had Mr. Vinny to himself, he could talk about his favorite hobby--video games.   At first, I was inclined to intervene.  Lewie, after all, was supposed to be talking about swimming at swim school, not Minecraft.  However, we soon learned that Mr. Vinny loved computers too, and in addition to his part-time job as a swim instructor, he fixed computers and belonged to a gaming team.

"See, I told you, Mommy," Lewie bluted out to me one day after swim school.  Mr. Vinny is making money doing what he loves.  I can make money by designing my own video games."

I didn't know how to respond.  For years, since I was a kid growing up in the 80's, I was taught that technology, like Atari, Nintendo, and TV, rotted your brains.  It was the reason for children's low standardized test scores, low self-esteem, and the rise in childhood obesity and diabetes.  It was touted as pretty much everything evil, and today, there are plenty of statistics to prove it.  (Heck, even South Park took a jab at gaming in Season 10, Episode 8: "Make Love-Not Warcraft.")

Still, over the years, we watched Mr. Vinny move up the proverbial ladder.  First, he no longer had to fix computers because he was making more money with his "esports career."  Next, his team won a $500,000 prize, and although we never knew how much of that money was Mr. Vinny's cut, we did know that he ordered himself a brand new, custom-made, blue Mustang, complete with racing stripes and an orange interior.  (We laughed every time we saw it parked outside the pool area--it couldn't be mistaken as anyone else's car.)

Then, three weeks ago, Little Lewie's world turned upside down.  Mr. Vinny notified us that April would be his last month as a swim instructor.  He was doing so well with esports that companies were now sponsoring him and his team. He would be moving, buying his own house, and living "the dream."  Lewie cried on that day, for  Mr. Vinny had become more than a swim instructor to him.  He was a role model, a mentor, and probably the coolest twenty-something in Little Lewie's world.  (My husband and I were crushed, too!)

Lewie made sure to exchange email addresses with him before he left, and Mr. Vinny sent him a link to his gaming organization on Twitch.  Lewie didn't have to say goodbye forever.  He could now watch Mr. Vinny compete with other gamers live in games like League of Legends, Overwatch, Vainglory, Super Smash Bros and Fortnight.  (Of course, I'll check to see what's appropriate viewing for a ten year-old.)

A few years back, I stopped fighting Lewie on his passion for computers and started nurturing it.  He now goes to computer camp for one week during the summer, and he can have computer time everyday as long as his homework comes first. (At the moment, we have found a good balance between school, Cub Scouts, running club, swimming, and technology.)

Egaming/esports is becoming so popular, it's now recognized as a varsity sport at many colleges, and one article estimates that esports will be a $2.3 billion market by 2022 (https://www.gamedesigning.org/schools/varsity-esports/).  I'm not sure if Little Lewie will be following in Mr. Vinny's footsteps, but if he does, I won't be standing in his way.

1 comment:

  1. That is so interesting that Vinny makes money gaming. It's nice that Lewie had him as a role model!


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