Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bad Call, Good Sportsmanship

Last summer, Armando Galarraga, a Tiger's baseball player,  was having the game of his career. He was on his way to a perfect game, a game in which a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings and in which no opposing player reaches base. One bad call by the umpire, JIm Joyce, shattered his dream. The crowd went wild. As Joyce walked off the field he realized he had made a bad call. He "blew" (said Joyce) the biggest call of his career as an umpire. He felt terrible. The fans were outraged by the call.

Interestingly, Galarraga, felt for Joyce. Joyce approached Galarraga after the game to apologize for his mistake. Galarraga said, "He probably feels more bad than me. Nobody's perfect. Everybody's human. I understand. I give the guy a lot of credit for saying, 'I need to talk to you.' You don't see an umpire tell you that after a game. I gave him a hug."  Galarraga showed Joyce compassion and had empathy for him. What a show of sportsmanship and humanity even in the shadow of disappointment. 

 Galarraga's compassion reached the fans and actually changed their outlook on the situation. Instead of it turning into a tumultuous situation there was a total paradigm switch. The fans changed their behavior according to how Galarraga was dealing with it.  He was a gentleman. He was forgiving and humble. The crowd followed suit. The next day, when Joyce came out to umpire the next game, which he was not looking forward to, the fans actually gave him a polite and sympathetic applause.  Amazing.  The night before, he feared leaving the stadium. 

I was so impressed by how Galarraga reacted. The next morning, my husband was running around looking for the sports page. When he got to the kitchen table, he saw me with tears in my eyes  reading the newspaper. Mind you, I am not a sports fan. It  would be highly unlikely to find me having my coffee with the sports page. Normally, it's junk magazines. Today, he found me with his sports page and (I think with a little excitement in his voice) asked me what I was doing with the sports page. I was reading the huge article about Joyce and Galarraga. It was a Flip Side story. Galarraga was seeing things from the Flip Side. I loved seeing how that effected the people around him. I loved the positive outcome of the situation. Amazing what seeing a different perspective can do. It is a ripple effect. Seeing things from another point of view can make us react to things in a different way, a peaceful way. 

Galarraga is a Flip Sider in my book.

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