My eight year old son’s baseball season ended tonight after a 12 to 11 playoff loss in Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball League. The older Taney Dragons caught the imagination of the world a few years ago when Mo’ne Davis and the team advanced to the semis of the Little League World Series.
The youngsters and my son felt the pain of the loss, but they also had fun with post-game Philly Soft Pretzels and parental indulgence in what is usually a nightmare sound- the ice cream truck doing yet another loop around the fields.
Parents are already texting tonight how proud we are of our children, how they fought until the end, and for the love of their younger siblings who came out for all the games and practices (and the ice cream truck!).
So why care about one parent writing about little league baseball? I am not sure you should, but here are a few reasons, in my mind:
For the kids who could not hold a bat up when the season began and got their first hit, proud parents looking on with a joyful tear.
For the kids who stuck their glove out and miraculously caught the hard-hit ball- possibly the only catch of the season. And teammates who then chant, “MVP, MVP!”
For teammates supporting one another. Encouraging one another. Learning the value of being a team. They have your back!
For a city baseball league, that brings people together from all income brackets, races, religions, and marital statuses. That’s not 1%. It’s 100%!
For the parents and grandparents who help rake the city fields after incessant rain and roll out the tarps so all kids can safely play ball. Okay, I was one of those parents. And I felt more satisfied seeing a clean field than I had working my ‘day job’ all week.
For the coaches who volunteer their time and sacrifice even more to help develop the confidence of young children. They are true heroes!
There is a breakdown in American Society, in part, because people are Bowling Alone It’s much easier to vilify categories of people online and through memes out of sheer ignorance while cloistering ourselves in virtual realities.
My son is asleep right now. He is probably dreaming about a play going slightly differently, making another run to tie the game. I also give him credit. He doesn’t want to play in the summer travel league: “Dad, I need some time to just chill out.” My hope is that we have not lost ourselves as the human race to understand that children of all walks of life, from every nation, should have the chance to play, to compete, to have a positive childhood experience. These experiences build character, build teamwork, build communities, and build nations.