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All-Star Sportsmanship

The MLB All-Star Game is over, and I’m upset.  Not because the National League didn’t win the game, but because of the poor sportsmanship that occurred against the players representing St. Louis during the opening of the game.

What’s the big deal?

In my younger days I played fast pitch softball.  I was a pitcher and played second base.  Each summer it was my goal to be selected to be an All Star, and I spent many hours throwing pitches in the front yard in order to achieve this goal.  I tried for three summers and each time fell just short of the honor.  After years of practice the big moment came.  Out of my 15 teammates I was selected as an All-Star.  The great feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming, and I was proud of my hard work.  It was an honor to line up before the game and hear my name called as the crowd cheered.  It was an amazing experience and I have many wonderful memories of that game.

I am so disappointed at the fans in Cincinnati for booing the Cardinals players during their All-Star introduction.  I can’t image what it would feel like to have worked as hard as they have to achieve the wonderful honor of being chosen to play this particular game.  The integrity of the game was sacrificed when the stadium full of people chose to boo an athlete.  I understand that a rivalry exists between St. Louis and Cincinnati, but to strip a player of his moment of recognition is unacceptable.

What message does this send to young athletes?

Tens of thousands of fans filled that stadium, and many more families tuned in to watch the game on television.  Many of the spectators were young children.  In a society where bullying is a big problem, this display of poor sportsmanship has sent the wrong idea to these young sports fans.  The message is that it’s ok to boo a player from another team because we don’t like them, when in reality every player on that field should have been applauded for their abilities.  The truth is it’s not ok, and we as adults need to be setting a better example.

What can we do?

Talk to your children about good sportsmanship and bullying.  Use this experience as an example and have a discussion about what it means to be respectful of others.  There are many great baseball players that we can look up to, like St. Louis’ own Stan Musial.  But also, be a better sports fan and set your own good example.  Acknowledge and admire a job well done, commend others for their efforts, even if they are on the other team.  Don’t forget at the end of every ballgame the players on opposing teams shake hands and say “good game”.  Children will follow your lead; make sure you’re example is worth following.

Congratulations to all of the athletes who were selected for this year’s All-Star Game.  The talent and abilities of these players is extraordinary, and it was a pleasure watching you play.