As the Little League World Series is upon us, you may want to consider addressing the topic of sportsmanship. This is particularly visible these days, with ESPN cameras trained on the young players as they go through the thrill of victory and agony of defeat in front of the entire world. Time and time again, the youngsters demonstrate poise and pride, even during the losses. It’s great to see - this is baseball in its purest form, played for the love of the game, and untainted by contracts, endorsements and agents.
These kids are setting an excellent example for young athletes everywhere, as they manage to brush off what must be considerable stress from being in the spotlight. Here are a few minor details that can go a long way in demonstrating graciousness:
There is no walking in baseball
This doesn’t refer to getting pitched four balls and walking to first - it literally means, run on and off the field. It is a sentiment preached in baseball camps across the country. During these little league games, many batters have struck out. Some have sulked to the dugout, and some jogged it in. The runners showed mental strength and didn’t bring down the team around them by displaying negativity or disappointment.
Respect your teammates, coaches, umpires and opponent
No one wants to see an argument break out between players on the same team, and it’s even worse when players talk back to the coach or umpire. Taunting or trash talking the other team is also tasteless, and takes away from the honesty of the game. Communication is key - most umpires will happily explain a call if you are genuinely interested in learning from it. But you have to be tactful. Similarly, coaches and teammates must be on the same page for the team to succeed.
Thank the other team for a good game
It’s easy to forget that it takes two to tango. There would be no victory if it weren’t for another team’s loss. The opponent allows a game to occur, and each team should appreciate the other’s presence. The competition may be as highly contested as possible, but at the end of the game, shake hands and congratulate the the other team for a job well done.
Sports prepare kids for life. These actions, highlighted on your youth baseball website, may seem insignificant, but they foster a mentality of grace and poise that the young athletes will carry with them throughout life.