Whistles, Skinny Pop, and Soccer

What do whistles, Skinny Pop popcorn, and soccer have to do with a cochlear implant?  Curious?  Read on!!! 

Our family has been full force into the high school soccer season.  I am incredibly grateful that both of our high schoolers have been able to play and have a full season amidst the 2020 pandemic.  I treasure each of these masked games, sitting 6 feet apart from the next family, cheering on our teams.

Wearing a mask and physical distancing during games has cut down on chatting with the other parents (which I do miss).  Looking on the bright side, I have decided that I would use this time to really listen to the sounds of soccer.  I found a quote from an unknown author…we don’t learn from talking; we learn from listening.  With this quote in mind, I decided that I would turn off my hearing aid and learn to listen to soccer with my cochlear implant.

Whistles: Many athletes and fans would without hesitation say that the high-pitched whistle is the number one attention grabber in the world of sports.  I grew up playing sports yet never heard this whistle.  Instead, I relied 100% on paying attention to my environment.  If everyone stopped, I knew that there was a call in the game.  I relied on the referee bringing the whistle to his/her mouth to indicate the start of a play.  At times, not hearing the whistle led to embarrassing sports acts like dribbling the ball all the way down the basketball court when everyone else was at the other end.  I survived and quite honestly did not know what sound I was missing. 

Fast forward to 2020, new cochlear implant and #1 soccer fan for my kids.  Really taking in the noises of the game, I noticed that I would occasionally experience a sensation in which the background noise of the game would dampen.  Then I would experience the sensation again.  And again.  I thought that it was just something with the noise filtering setting of the cochlear implant.  I soon started to put together that every time I had this “sensation” the players would stop and the referee would make a call on the play.  Paying even closer attention, I realized that the referee was putting the whistle up to his mouth.   It finally clicked and a lightbulb went off. The sensation was actually hearing this high-pitched attention grabber for the first time and realizing that this sound is the whistle!!  Once I made this connection, I began to hear and recognize the whistle more and more. 

What does Skinny Pop Popcorn have to do with soccer and a cochlear implant?  Imagine 5 kids eating Skinny Pop popcorn in foil lined bags several rows behind you at a soccer game. Multiply the bags by 5 and that equates to a lot of hands going into these foiled lined bags over a 5 minute period of time until the last kernel is devoured.  Sitting at the game, trying to concentrate on all of the noises that surrounded me, I started to realize that I could actually hear the crinkle of the foil lined bags several rows BEHIND me.  Did I mention I was hearing foil crinkle sounds behind me!  I can attest that with my hearing aid, I would not have known anyone was eating popcorn behind me as my hearing aids would not have picked up that sound.  I have to admit that I was not a big fan of this continuous crinkling sound, but was relishing in the amazement of hearing and recognizing this new CI sound from behind.   

Take a moment and reflect on the quote…we don’t learn from talking, we learn from listening. What crinkle do you need to listen to? What whistle needs to blow in your life to grab your attention and make you stop and listen? 

3 Replies to “Whistles, Skinny Pop, and Soccer”

  1. Love this story – incredible that you were so successful at the various sports growing up without ever hearing so many sounds we all take for granted! You continue to amaze and impress me : ).


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