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    Jack Cooley's Secret? No More Video Games

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    cooleygames.jpg ESPN.com - Parents of the world, lend me your ears. You want to get your kid to study and do his homework and get good grades and get a college scholarship, or at least some grants, maybe. But it can be a battle. All the kid wants to do is play NBA2K12. Or Modern Warfare. Or, worse yet, World of Warcraft. You try to tell him: Homework first, video games second. In life, you have to do the work before you get the reward. But kids don't think that way, do they? How can you get your point across?

    Don't worry, guys. Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley is here to help.

    You may know Cooley as a longtime Irish reserve, a guy most frequently talked about because of his uncanny resemblance to former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody. Cooley was Mini-Gody; he contained the skeletal outline of The Gody without much basketball productivity built-in. At least, until this season. Cooley's 2012 has been a dream. He's averaging 12.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for a streaking Irish team. In ND's eight-game winning streak -- beginning with its upset win over Syracuse on Jan. 21 -- Cooley has posted six double-doubles, and his averages have jumped to 16.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. Cooley's efficiency numbers (offensive rating: 122.4; eFG%: 61.8) are stellar, and he's among the nation's top 10 players in offensive rebounding rate (17.2 percent). After years of being a Harangody body double, the source of countless unoriginal Twitter jokes, Cooley is having his own moment in the sun -- leading a once-left-for-dead Irish team to an 11-3 Big East record and a surefire spot in the NCAA tournament.

    Why the sudden burst of improvement? Because, according to the man himself, he stopped playing video games. From the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton:

    Hours upon hours of pixel fixation trained Jack Cooley in strategic retreat. And that rapture with all-consuming video games like "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" and "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" had basketball suffering from hand-eye subordination. Something had to give. So Cooley, Notre Dame's truculent road roller of a center, handed the games to a friend. There was one condition:Just don't give them back to me. Consider it among the most critical turnovers of his career.

    "Never get 'SkyRim,'" Cooley advised, sounding vaguely somber. "You'll never stop playing it."

    Phew. That quote makes me really glad I didn't buy SkyRim. I thought about it, and I read about how addicting it was, and I made a responsible, adult decision to wait until the offseason. I do not regret it.

    But in all seriousness, as Cooley explains in the story, he really did have to refocus on the game of basketball, to become the sort of "waking up, eat, class, eat, basketball, eat, sleep" type of person. Clearly, the dedication has paid off. Who knew SkyRim was so insidious? And how many other college basketball players have we lost to its absorbing charms? Does this epidemic know no end?

    Anyway, parents, print this story out -- or copy the link and send it to your kid's iPhone, so the email alert briefly jars him out of his game of Tiny Wings -- and show him what the power of fewer video games can do. Cooley isn't just a Big East player of the year candidate. He's also making parenting your video game-addled child 20 or 30 percent easier. Thank him later.

    - Eamonn Brennan

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