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Canzano: Uplifting Little League scene is just what sports needed
My eyes watered... bet yours did too.
I don’t know if you needed some Little League Baseball World Series in your life, but I sure did.
Tuesday’s Southwest Region championship game between Texas East and Oklahoma delivered in a way that college sports and professional sports haven’t lately.
Kaiden Shelton, of Texas, was on the mound. Oklahoma’s Isaiah Jarvis was at the plate. Shelton’s 0-2 pitch got away from him and struck Jarvis in the helmet, knocking the batter to the ground in a scene that left everyone stunned.
It’s what happened next, though, that hit even harder.
Jarvis got up, shook it off, and walked to first base. Once there, the 12-year old realized that Shelton was still standing beside the mound, head down, distraught. The pitcher was rattled and struggling to compose himself.
Jarvis tried to get the pitcher’s attention from first base and let him know he was OK. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, the base runner tossed his helmet aside and walked to the mound. Once there, he did the wildest thing.
He hugged him.
Then, Jarvis told him, “Hey, you’re doing just great.”
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few months growing disillusioned with sports. We’re in a summer that has given us LIV Golf, the defection of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten, and Kevin Durant signing a $198 million extension, then demanding a trade one year into it.
Tradition and geography have been tossed aside. College conferences are intoxicated, chasing new revenue. It’s one giant money grab. And I wonder if we’ll soon be able to tell the difference between amateur sports and professional sports.
Then, came that wonderful Little League scene.
The two teams were competing for one of 20 spots in the World Series in Williamsport, Pa. One advances. One goes home. When Jarvis got plunked, the score was 3-2 in the bottom of the first inning with two baserunners aboard. I don’t know about you, but the empathy, class and sportsmanship displayed in that moment felt like a cool breeze across a scorching-hot sports landscape.
The Big Ten Conference is negotiating a media rights package worth more than $1 billion. Athletes at USC and UCLA are going to soon be asked to schlep across the country to play games. The NBA is angling for a new $75 billion TV deal.
The transfer portal has become a revolving door. Donor collectives are buying college talent on the open market. And the NFL’s biggest offseason story involved a quarterback accused of sexual assault by more than two dozen women being awarded a $230 million contract by the Cleveland Browns.
I didn’t like seeing Jarvis get hit in the helmet by that pitch. I held my breath when I saw the video. I was glad the kid wasn’t hurt. Then, I watched him go to first base, and do something the rest of sports hasn’t done enough of lately — lift us all up.
My eyes watered.
I sure needed it.
Maybe you did, too.
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