Friday, May 22, 2009

It’s just a game

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I was recently invited out to a baseball game. I love baseball games. The excitement of the players, the smell of the freshly-cut grass of the field, the sno-cones sold at the concession stand.

Whenever I attend a ballgame I will usually take my camera along. There is something I love about holding this marvelous little piece of technology and capturing snapshots of the game through the camera’s lens.

As I was at this particular game, I found myself aware of the umpire who was making a few bad calls. It seems that umpires are often faulted for this; and while it is often the case, it is not always so. However, this time the umpire made an obvious mistake; this was plainly evident even to the photographer who wasn’t paying attention to runs and score—even he knew the umpire was in the wrong.

Several parents on the faulted team realized this as well; that’s when the muttering and murmuring began.

It’s at this point that I have to question…what has yelling at an umpire ever really accomplished? Has it ever changed the outcome of the game? Has it ever made people into better individuals, or does it just show what a poor sportsman you are?

There are signs which hang at the little-league field; the signs basically read something to the effect of this: These are kids, they’re playing a game. Cheer for everyone. Don’t be a bad sport. Set a good example.

Kids are impressionable, they learn by watching others. I was grateful for a coach who went up to these murmuring parents and asked them to stop—even though he too knew that the umpire was in the wrong. My respect for this man went up tenfold for this simple act of respect for the official at the meet.

As I sat down near a group of parents, one of asked me how I felt about the game and how it was progressing. To this I responded, “You know what? If I had a boy out there playing I’d take him out for ice cream afterward, you know why? Because I’ll bet if he wins the game, he’s going to live, if he loses the game, he’ll live. In the end it won’t matter because in a year he probably won’t even remember this game anyway. He will remember the ice cream though.”

The parent looked at me and smiled. “Ice cream seems to be in order tonight.”

As the game progressed, my student leaned up against the chain-link fence and said, “Mr. Z, I’m going to get up to bat with the bases loaded, and then hit a home run and score a whole bunch of points!”

To this I responded with, “You know what, Joey? I just want you to have fun. That’s the reason I came out today…watching you just have fun is fun for me.”

With that he went up to bat.

He struck out.

But he was still smiling.


Gerb said...

Here's to ice cream! And happy kids, just being kids.

Corine said...

It is so refreshing to see people remember the whole point in playing - to have fun.

The smile at the end tells me that the boy who struck out knows that his worth isn’t wrapped up in his performance. If he remembers this, he’ll keep liking himself and have the courage to keep trying.

Mamma has spoken said...

But I think what Joey will remember most of that night, is the teacher who took time out of his daily life to spend time watching him play baseball......

Linn said...

That is awesome! Way to go with that fabulous lesson.

And next time we come to your great state (both our families live there) we will schedule a photo shoot with you, if you are okay with that. We would LOVE it!

Deo Volente said...

I simply could not agree more...

Kris said...

I wish you could come and lecture some parents at Brycen's games!

Anonymous said...

You're a good teacher, and someday, you'll be a good parent. (I guess that's a when and if scenario--but you have the skills!)


Bee said...

You're spot on, and I will admit that on a rare occasion even I forgot what it's really all about.

Teachinfourth said...

G - Amen to that!

C - I am a firm believer in having fun as well.

M - I didn't stop to think about that; thanks for the comment.

L - You know, the best lessons are not usually planned, they just happen.

Let me know when you're in the area - we'll schedule something; I think it would be a lot of fun.

DV - Looks like we're on the same mindset then.

Kris - Or just bust some heads...

L - Nunchuck skills, computer hacking know, skills.

B - Don't we all at times? By the way, it's good to see you again; you haven't posted in awhile and I was starting to wonder what happened to you.

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