Quantum Leaps

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April 5, 2021- It was the joy of a lifetime to see the University of Arizona Women’s Basketball team advance to the NCAA Finals, with a solid victory over a formidable University of Connecticut team. It was disappointing to see the Wildcats lose, by one point, to Stanford University, two days later-yet heartening that both teams gave 100%, and there was, as it were, no subsequent animosity or rancor, from either side. The NCAA itself took a self-imposed black eye from its earlier refusal to acknowledge Arizona’s presence in its own tournament, but I see that more as part of the growing pains that are part of college sports’, and society’s, maturing attitude towards women’s sports.

The health, stamina and well-being of both male and female human beings is one of the most basic interests of a fully-functioning society. I was one of the most uncoordinated of children and young adults, but have always recognized the role that sports, especially team sports, have in the maintenance of good physical and emotional health, as well as their role in building character. Youth, high school and college level athletics, at their best, provide the most reliable vehicle for character-building. When adult egos and remuneration get involved, that character-building can be tarnished-and granted, I have seen “Youth Leagues” turn into mechanisms for burnout of otherwise promising young athletes.

I fully expect that the quantum leaps that we have seen, in the progress of sports for girls and women, will long continue-and have the effect of elevating all athletic endeavours-for boys and men, and co-educational teams, as well. Congratulations again to the University of Arizona Wildcats, and to the Stanford Cardinal, for jobs well done. (Here’s to you, also, Baylor Bears.)

Lessons from Little League

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April 10, 2017, Prescott- 

One of my students asked me to attend his Little League team’s game, this evening.  Having no appointments or meetings, I eagerly headed over to Roughrider Park, the Prescott League’s primary venue.   It was carved from Fort Whipple, many years ago, along with Prescott VA Hospital and Yavapai College.

Team sports teach children several skills.  Some are obvious, like looking out for one’s teammates, decency towards one’s opponents, the value of practice and accepting constructive criticism.  Other lessons, such as everyone has something to contribute and there is no task too menial for a team member to perform, are less front and center- and sometimes must be sought out.

It’s been several years since I watched 8-10 year-old children in the course of learning these types of lessons, in an athletic setting.  Some things have changed:  Adults are not necessarily the only umpires.  Men are not necessarily the only coaches and managers.  The opposing team was managed by a woman.  Each team had at least one girl player, and each girl held her own.  Proves what I have felt to be true, since junior high school:  Skill is skill.

The basics, though, remain constant, and baseball will remain a key pastime of youth, for a good many generations to come.