An ADHD Fan Face-off

An ADHD Fan Face-off

I was delighted when a friend showed up at my door with two tickets to our local Ontario Hockey League (OHL) hockey game for Saturday night. In spite of the NHL spat, I could get my hockey fix. And not just on t.v., but a LIVE hockey fix. Even better.

This wasn’t going to be just any game: our local boys (the Owen Sound Attack) are no slouches. In 2011, they won the OHL Conference Championship and the Ontario J. Ross Robertson Cup.

Little did I know I was destined to have an ADHD fan face-off.

The warm-up

After enjoying a pre-game beverage and wandering around the rink to check out the various booths and concessions, my friend and I took our seats. As usual, the stadium was nearly sold out, the locals steadfast in their ongoing team support. The excitement in the arena was palpable.

Game time

The puck dropped. I leaned forward in my chair to follow the fast-paced game. If I didn’t hyperfocus, I would have missed a lot of the action. The adrenaline rush helped me to stay focused and I’d already warned my friend that I’d be a loud, active participant in the game.

(Ever notice how live sports events are the perfect outlet for verbal impulsivity?)


Before long, the young man and his date sitting next to me did what all young folks do whether they’re walking to school or out with friends: they pulled out their iPhones.

It was still the first period; I hung on to my focus, deftly skating around the distraction to my left. Before long, the kids put their cellphones away.

He shoots, he scores!

Within minutes, the home team scored. Then again. By the second period the action had slowed, most of it in front of the opposition’s net. I began to secretly cheer for the other team as my maternal instincts kicked in. Hey, if it was my kid out there I wouldn’t want his team to get slaughtered. Besides, I knew I’d get bored if there wasn’t any challenge.

Third period

By the third period, a slaughter seemed inevitable. We were up 5-0, and the other team seemed resigned.

Not only was the game lost, but so was my focus. And apparently, the focus of the guy beside me. He’d buried his face in his iPhone at the beginning of the third, and was now completely ignoring the game. I’d had another bevvie during the last break, which, along with the inevitability of the game’s outcome, eroded my own ability to concentrate.

My eyes darted from the game, down to the glaring screen of the cellphone, then back to the ice like a ping-pong ball being hit back and forth, back and forth. The phone’s screen might as well have been the size of the scoreboard, for all I could concentrate.

I couldn’t believe it; there wasn’t one other person with their cellphone out. I scanned all the rows behind us; I scanned the seats around us; I scanned the seats across from us. Nope. Not one.

Why me? I thought. Of all the people who have to get the one cellphone addict in the arena sitting beside them, it had to be me.

An ADHD fan face-off

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more.

Frustrated, and with alcohol diluting my inhibitions, I turned to my neighbor.

Enjoying the game?

“Yeah, it’s all right.”

How do you know?

At this, my row-mate looked up at me. He had a sheepish, dimpled grin on his face.

I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I have ADHD, I said. I don’t know whether to look at the game, at your phone, or what. I’m just too distracted. I’m sorry, but I can’t help it.

The kid smiled even broader.

“I’ve got ADHD too.”

Birds of a feather?

The young man put his cellphone away without my even asking. I didn’t even have to go into overtime to explain my challenges, he said he totally got it, he struggled with distraction too (I suppose I should have guessed this, given that he’d been the only one with his cellphone out during a slow game, but I didn’t want to be presumptuous.)

I was smiling when I left the arena. I’d won against my own ADHD – a much tougher adversary than any hockey team.


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