Good Sportsmanship ~ A Rare Commodity

So the first disclaimer here is… I don’t give a hoot about baseball. Good to know dear readers. However, I listen to the radio on the way to work and I heard, incidentally, the wonderful story of the near perfect game. I don’t normally listen to sports news, but this wasn’t really sports news it was sportsmanship news. I had already seen clips of it on the morning news (it was not reserved for the sports segment). Everyone, I think, knows what happened. Armando Gallaraga of the Detroit Tigers was one out away from a historic “perfect game”. I think there have only been 21 in the recorded history of baseball; not many. He pitched, the Cleveland Indians hitter got a bat on it and ran for first. First base umpire Jim Joyce called it out, thus ruining the otherwise perfect game. The players looked at replays and everyone agreed the runner was not safe. But the rules in baseball say that replays are only for questionable home runs. As Matt Lauer put it on the Today Show this morning, if they add more instant replays, the games will be six hours long. The argument over instant replays in baeball, however, is for another day.

Gallaraga was smiling and gracious, even as Bud Selig was spewing in Joyce’s face, understandably angry. Gallarage never lost his cool that I could tell, even when the news clips show him hard pressed and provoked by the journalists to vent. He was a model of good sportsmanship.

Jim Joyce himself watched the replay and quickly admitted, after the game, that he had blown the call. Wow, what a moment in America’s public life, someone rapidly and unqualifiedly taking responsibility for a public and momentous mistake. Joyce then made an apology to Gallaraga. Wow again. The final Wow was Gallaraga publicly and unreservedly accepting the apology.

So for those two, the incident was done. But how rare in our cultural life to see two grown men acting with grace, integrity and rationality. What a wonderful example. Gallaraga had the confidence to know that he was good no matter what, and that was enough for him; how wonderful. Joyce had the integrity to apologize for his mistake; how wonderful. Gallaraga had the grace to accept the apology and move on; how wonderful. Isn’t it too bad that this fabulous example of good sportsmanship will almost certainly be eclipsed at any moment by another anorexic party girl faux-celeb being led away in handcuffs. I don’t know about you, but I know which image I’d like my child to remember.

Miss USA in Lingerie?

The Donald, Trump himself, explains how his “art” pictures of the Miss USA contestants is not objectionable like those dirty pix that got the last Miss USA thrown out on her ear.

Leave it to Trump to even further junkify the Miss USA pageant.  First, let me be clear, I am an ardent opponent of beauty pageants.  I think they personify everything feminist and out of balance between men and women and our cultural perceptions of each other in this country.  That being said, I understand that there are young women who think that strutting around in a bikini on national television is the only pathway to fame for them.  They might be right.  If they aren’t too bright or talented in a real sense, and they get past their surgical prime, they might not get famous. 

So the question arises “is getting famous a necessity for a happy, fulfilled life?”  Obviously not.  So why do so many young Americans think that getting famous for any reason is an ultimate goal, even if it is for bad, ugly reasons?  What are we missing that our teenagers simply don’t understand, even on the most superficial level (the one they best understand) the concept of internal  satisfaction?  Of being happy with your life because you are doing well, are healthy, have happy relationships, a fulfilling job, good grades, a decent place to live, a halfway nice ride, etc. etc.  I am guessing I am not the first parent in history to wonder why children don’t get what it took me a lifetime to learn.

But I digress.  So the Miss USA pageant, as tacky and distasteful as it already was, is now promoting photos of the contestants in Victoria’s Secret ad type attire.  Keep in mind that the previous Miss USA was de-crowned for tacky pix.  The most humorous news bit of the week was watching Donald Trump explain why those pictures and these pictures are just different!  His explanation was that those were “over the top” and his were very “artsy”. Wow, maybe we should nominate him to the Supreme Court!  He’s got that first amendment jive down just right. 

So what began as a demeaning display of faux femininity just progressed to way worse.  How best can we reinforce our young men’s skewed ideas of what a woman should look like?  How best can we undermine our young women and encourage anorexia, bulemia and bionic boobs?  How can we create a set of expectations for our young people that ensures they will never be satisfied either with their un-famous lives or with each other? Just ask Trump.

Boys’ Moms

Boys feelings are often invalidated or ignored and teenage boys can be very sensitive indeed. Being a boy’s mom is not always easy; parenting is not for sissies.

They are almost grown, seventeen, and they feel that they are almost grown.  They think they know everything, they think the road is clear despite what they can’t see.  But they have thin skins, much more than they would want you to know. 

One of my son’s friends had a terrific fight with his mother and walked out.  It was a while before she realized that he had gone, his little sister told her he was gone; and had taken his homework.  My son and his friends are really good kids and generally there are only a few places any one of them would go.  So of course his mother called me.  My son wasn’t here and I didn’t know where hers was.

I called my son, who was on his way home and he arrived a short while later.  I could hear that someone else was with him and, of course, it was his friend.  He had walked all the way from his house to ours.  Quite a distance.  I told him one of us was going to call his mother because I would expect the same if I didn’t know where my son was.  I called her.   Her family are immigrants, her son first generation American, and her culture is quite rigid in its expectations of its sons in particular.  She didn’t understand why the argument was such a big deal.  Since I didn’t know what they argued about, I couldn’t really say.  But I convinced her to give him some space and let him stay here for the night. 

The concept that a son might be “sensitive” or have hurt feelings was quite alien to her.  But my son is pretty sensitive and I get the whole mood swing and hurt feelings thing.  I can’t always avoid hurting them but I understand that he has them.  My son’s friend explained to me that his parents don’t feel that he should have feelings or a point of view, they feel that everything about him is or should be circumscribed and defined by their experience.  He tries to explain to them how he feels, but he thinks they don’t care how he feels.

I don’t know the truth of the matter but I know boys have feelings and I know they are more sensitive than you might think, or than you want them to know.  They have mood swings, they have moods.  They think they know everything but lots of things still confuse them.  They want to be independent, but they want support.  Being a boy’s mom is a hard job, but one I wouldn’t trade.