Distraction: it might be the most needlessly analyzed term in all of sports. Especially over the last year or so. Jason Collins signs with the Nets: will the first openly gay player in the NBA serve as a distraction? (Turns out, no). Will Michael Sam fall in the NFL draft, because teams fear that the first openly gay player in the NFL would distract the locker room? (Such a fear surely cost Sam draft position).
Every year, distractions are a rote Super Bowl story line. Will the players be able to handle all ticket requests, the glare and anticipation of over a hundred million Americans, and still play football? This year, the distractions lurk like a lobby autograph hound. How will Deflategate impact the New England Patriots? Can they stay focused while a large segment of the world calls them cheaters? And now, the news out of Seattle’s camp: the girlfriend of star cornerback Richard Sherman could go into labor any moment now. Will Sherman actually skip the game to be in the delivery room? How ever will the Seahawks tune this out?
Humans – especially pro athletes — have a lot going on, and the brain is wired to cope. In study published in December in the journalPsychological Science, two Brown researchers – Joo-Hyun Song, assistant professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological science and Patrick Bédard, assistant professor of neuroscience — found that being distracted while learning a motor task did not hinder a subject’s ability to perform the task, as long as the subject was also distracted during recall. In other words, as long as we’re always distracted, we’ll perform just fine.
Read the whole story: TIME