I was at a baseball game last night, and I was disappointed.
It wasn’t just because the Iowa Cubs blew an early lead and lost it in the end. It was because while I expect the major league players to give up on first base runs, I expected the minor league players to try harder.
In baseball, if you get a hit and think you won’t even get a chance to run to second base, you are allowed to overrun first base. That is, you don’t need to keep your foot on first base to stay safe. You can run past it, and so long as you don’t indicate that you’re going for second base, you just need to focus on getting to first base before the opposing team can force out.
In little league, we were taught that even if it looked like the other team was easily going to field the ball and get it to first base before you could get there, you run as fast as you can. They might make a mistake and throw it over their teammate’s head. They might panic because it could be close. It’s baseball. Anything can happen in baseball.
And yet, I watched time and time again as the minor league players kept slowing down before getting to first base, as if it was a foregone conclusion that they were out.
From my seat in the stands it might have been hard to tell, but it looked like a number of those plays were closer than their lack of urgency implied. If they gave it a bit more effort, if they hadn’t given up, how many base hits would they have had that night?
Worse is that there were all of those people in the stands, many of them children. They’ll see this example and take it with them to tee-ball or little league. And why not? It’s what the real baseball players were doing.
And that’s what was more disappointing than the loss. It was the example being set.
When Clint Dempsey tears up the referee’s notebook, he’s setting a bad example. He’s supposed to be the international veteran in that game, yet he acted like a child not happy that his parents are telling him that there are rules he has to follow.
When you show up chronically late to your job, you’re setting an example (by the way, Self, that was directed at you).
When you yell and scream at your spouse in front of your children, you are setting an example.
When you post petty, ugly, or hateful things on Facebook, you are setting an example.
And these examples send messages to people, mainly “This is how a real ______ acts.”
Fill in the blank with “baseball player” or “software engineer” or “Christian” or “partner in a loving relationship” or any role or position you can see someone holding.
How are you acting in your roles in life? If you were a stranger witnessing your actions day to day, would you be proud of the example you’re setting?