Society often looks to professional athletes as role models. When they stumble in their personal lives or in their on-field behavior, they’re rightly criticized as setting a bad example.
But perhaps we’re looking for our role models in the wrong places.
Last week, an errant pitch hit Tulsa, Oklahoma, little leaguer Isaiah Jarvis in the head. For several minutes, he lay on the ground attended by adults. In the pros, such a pitch might have prompted a dugout-clearing brawl, or some form of revenge from the opposing team later in the game.
Instead of retribution, the batter delivered a hug.
Twelve-year-old Isaiah trotted to first base, well enough to keep playing. Then, he noticed the pitcher was still visibly upset. Isaiah called time out, walked over to the mound, and wrapped his arms around his distraught competitor, Kaiden Shelton. And he gave Kaiden a quiet pep talk. “If I was in that position and just hit a kid in the head and almost gave him a concussion, I would be (crying), too. So I was just going over to make sure that he knows I’m OK and he doesn’t need to be crying because I’m just fine,” Isaiah told the Tulsa World Journal.
More tears flowed in the ballpark as parents and coaches were touched by this display of compassion and sportsmanship. Video of the moment went viral.
The Tulsa Nationals lost that playoff game. Their competitors, from Pearland, Texas, are now representing the U.S. Southwest at the Little League World Series that began Wednesday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Still, the Tulsa team won in the game of life.
“You think about our world and how divisive things tend to become. Here are teams that they all desperately want to go to Williamsport,” Tulsa coach Sean Kouplen said. “But they put their friendship and caring for each other above that every time. It is just so refreshing and so inspiring.”