Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Competition: When Emotions Are High

We are a sports-centered society; we live for the competition, and nowhere else does it show better than in sports. Whether it be a little league game, high school rivalries, college games, or the professional stage, SPORTS is EVERYWHERE!

Most likely, you've grown up playing some form of organized sporting activity: tee ball, volleyball, tennis, basketball, football, or track and fields (just to name a few). Maybe you excelled in a certain game and played while in school - old "boys" love to remember their glory days of yesteryears. 

Emotions run high during competition, it can get intense, there is no question about it. On the playing field, there's definitely sweat, blood, and tears. Whether actually playing the game or cheering for your team, we feel invested in the game that is being played. "Fan" comes from fanatical, and if honest, our emotions due get fanatical. We've all had an outburst or two (maybe more) that we'd care to forget. So if you can relate, take a few minutes and compare the below sports stories:

1. A few weeks ago, athletes at the highest level competed in the sport of tennis at one of only 4 Grand Slam events: the US Open held in Flushing, New York. Stakes are even higher at the biggest events. During the final match for the female division between Serena Williams (American) and Samantha Stosur (Australian), there was an ugly incident which many continue to discuss (although I will admit, many commentators have blown it greatly out of proportion).

Serena Williams won a point during the match, but was overruled by the umpire for a foul (in very laymen's terms). You can view the incident and follow-up stories HERE. I must also admit, that I personally thought that the umpire's call was ridiculous and wrong, and that Serena Williams' reaction wasn't as bad as it could have been, and certainly not as bad as I've seen by other athletes in competition.

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With all that said, I'd like to compare and constrast with another sporting incident and reaction.

2. One of the greatest individual achievements in sports is a perfect game in baseball, which is where the pitcher allows not one single hit. Its rare and held in special honor among baseball players, coaches, and fans. Back in June 2010, the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team had such an incident. Detroit pitcher, Armando Galarraga was looking to join that elite class with a perfect game. Late in the 9th inning, during the final out the batter hit the ball, Galarraga raced over to cover first base and touch the bag with ball in hand for an out - and his perfect game. However, the umpire called the runner safe, ending his hope for the coveted perfect game. It was the wrong call, the umpire made a huge mistake.

Galarraga's reaction was unthinkable, to be perfectly honest. He was wronged, and he knew it, but how did he react to his dream being shattered? He didn't scream and curse, he didn't throw down his glove or hat, he didn't stomp his feet. He simply smiled!

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The following day, the game went on. The Detroit Tigers played again, and the umpire called the game. A short video clip of the exchange can be found HERE. Before the game, there was a touching interaction photographed below:

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Sportsmanship is a term often overlooked. In simple terms, its being grateful for being on the field of play in the first place. Thankful for the competition, thankful for hard, fair, and safe playing.

By comparing these sports stories, I'm not trying to pass judgement upon Serena Williams and praise upon Armando Galarraga. I'm just trying to relate for others (and myself) that where there is competition, emotions are high. Sportsmanship and perspective are always greatly appreciated.

- A Day in the Life of the "Tee Ball All-American" Youth Director

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