On the field or in the ring, whether we win or lose, it's important to do so with grace and a smile on our face.
With bases loaded and two outs, the player up to bat is facing a full-count last pitch. The pitch is thrown. The batter swings and misses. Does the batter's team respond with a disappointed sigh or "that's OK, you'll get it next time"?
The judge has the class of yearling heifers all lined up and is about to make his placings final. You're standing at the top of the class. Then, at the last minute, the judge rearranges the lineup and you end up third in the class. Do you walk out of the ring with a frown or a smile?
A couple weeks ago, both our youth softball season and our youth showing season ended. This was my family's first year with a child playing in the local softball league and the second year of showing dairy cattle in 4-H.
Both softball and showing were great experiences, with lots of learning opportunities. As I look back at both seasons, I find myself thinking about the importance of role models in each of these activities. Specifically, I noticed the way older players, exhibitors, coaches, leaders, and other parents demonstrated sportsmanship.
The softball league Dan played in is made up of kids ages nine through 14, so each team includes players of all ages. Dan was lucky enough to end up on a team with a group of kids who were playing to learn and have fun. This was Dan's first time participating in a team sport and his first time playing softball or baseball, so he had a lot to learn. The older kids on his team and his coaches did a great job teaching and encouraging him.
Dan's team didn't finish the season with a winning record, but, more importantly, they played every game with positive attitudes and good sportsmanship. They did win one key game, though.
In the first round of the league playoffs...
[Read the rest of this column in the Dairy Star.]