Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This is one of the best sports-related stories I have seen in quite some time.

I don't normally post stuff like this, as I happened to be a terrible cynic and distinctly un-sentimental about most everything not related to puppies or young children. However, after months of months of just terribly depressing news stories, one after another, this one was just too good to ignore. And it has nothing to do with winning or losing. Or maybe it does, but shows that there are other, more important considerations than “winning”, such as sportsmanship, respecting one’s opponents and being a compassionate human being.

This is from the Seattle Times.

Something remarkable happened in a college softball game Saturday in Ellensburg. At least, I am conditioned to think it was remarkable, since it involved an act of sportsmanship, with two players helping an injured opponent complete the home run she had just slugged.

Why this generous act should seem so unusual probably stems from the normal range of bulked-up baseball players, police-blotter football players, diving soccer and hockey players and other high-profile professionals.

The moment of grace came after Sara Tucholsky, a diminutive senior for Western Oregon, hit what looked like a three-run homer against Central Washington. Never in her 21 years had Tucholsky propelled a ball over a fence, so she did not have her home run trot in order, gazing in awe, missing first base. When she turned back to touch the bag, her right knee buckled, and she went down, crying and crawling back to first base.

Pam Knox, the Western Oregon coach, made sure no teammates touched Tucholsky, which would have automatically made her unable to advance. The umpires ruled that if Tucholsky could not make it around the bases, two runs would score but she would be credited with only a single. ("She'll kill me if I take it away from her," Knox thought.)

Then Mallory Holtman, the powerful first baseman for Central Washington, said words that brought a chill to everybody who heard them:

"Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?"

The umpires huddled and said it would be legal, so Holtman and the Central Washington shortstop, Liz Wallace, lifted Tucholsky, hands crossed under her, and carried her to second base, and gently lowered her so she could touch the base. Then Holtman and Wallace started to giggle, and so did Tucholsky, through her tears, and the three of them continued this odd procession to third base and home to a standing ovation.

"Everybody was crying," Knox recalled Tuesday. "It was an away game, and our four fans were crying. We couldn't hit after that."

Not sure I can say much after that.

UPDATE: I had originally thought this was a local story. That is one reason I posted it. However, I was wrong. This has become a national story, with the same information showing up on Yahoo News and the CBS Morning Show. Well, that's great for all the ladies involved and both teams. I guess a lot of people were just as taken by this story as I was. But, it is a bit sobering to think one reason this hit such a nerve with people is that this kind of story is so damn rare these days. Sportsmanship and respect is, along with many other concepts that used to be part of the fabric of this country, some quaint and obsolete notion that just has no place in our society these days. See? My cyncial side returns...

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