A quick lesson in sportsmanship

Photo by Skoch3 via Wikipedia

Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) is playing coach-pitch baseball.

This is where the coach pitches, and after 5, 6 or 7 strikes (the rules aren’t fixed), the batter uses a tee. They play 3 innings. No one is ever called out, and an inning lasts until everyone hits the ball and circles the bases. They don’t keep score, but if they did, each side’s score would be the number of players who showed up, multiplied by 3. It’s a practice league. They’re learning the fundamentals, and that’s about it.

Thing 2, though, has also learned something about sportsmanship.

Max Patkin

He was playing 2nd base the other night, and he didn’t have a lot to do besides watch the game and think of funny ways to wear his baseball cap (he settled on wearing it sideways, kind of like Max Patkin).

Midway through the 2nd inning, Thing 2 started high-fiving the kids on the other team as they jogged from 1st to 2nd.

He didn’t care that the kids were on the other team, and he didn’t care that they might be “winning.” He knows how hard it is to hit the ball, and he thought he ought to congratulate them for doing it.

I know he’ll eventually outgrow that kind of enthusiasm, but I kind of hope he doesn’t.

18 thoughts on “A quick lesson in sportsmanship

  1. Good for Thing 2. Interesting connection to something I heard on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday: is it appropriate for major league players to congratulate the opposition during the game, such as when Derek Jeter gets his 3000th hit?

    And great Max Patkin reference. My Slim has been on a mission all season to see how much dirt he can put in his cap and then quickly plop it back on his head. Gotta love that league.

    1. I think the guys on the other team should congratulate Jeter when it reaches 3,000, assuming he’s clean and there won’t be an asterisk beside his name in the record books.

      I got to see Max Patkin once in the ’80s. He was a hoot. I didn’t realize he was famous, though, until I saw “Bull Durham.”

  2. I also hope he doesn’t outgrow his enthusiasm. It’s tough when kids get older, and many of their own teammates are even slow to offer encouragement — especially to those at the bottom of the order, or out in right field.

    Cute story!

    1. You want to see a good example of sportsmanship? This is from a college softball game a few years ago. Basically, the batter gets a home run but tears a ligament and can’t run around the bases. The umpire says her teammates can’t help her circle the bases, and if they bring in a pinch runner, it’ll count as a single, not a homer. So, the girls on the other team carry her around the bases. It turned out it was the hitter’s first and only home run, ever.


  3. I think you can compete in a healthy way by trying to win without wishing bad things on the other team and still be happy for them if they win instead. Sounds like your son is on his way.

  4. Your kid is generous and kind and he understands it’s mostly about looking cool anyway….I am betting those qualities keep him a winner his whole life -no matter what game he is playing.

  5. Great story about Thing 2. My oldest Thing is now 14 and a very talented young ball player. In the right scenario (walk-off HR or over the fence slam) he’d also do the high five. I love coaches that reinforce this by asking the players to cheer for their team mates (talk it up in the dugout) and who won’t tolerate poor sportsmanship (make ’em ride pine).

  6. I love stories like this. It’s great to hear when sports can make kids feel positive and learn to be kind instead of being overly competitive. I tell my kids as a parent I’m much more proud when they put their arm around someone else than when they hit a home run.

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