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…and who can blame them?

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Today on News Radio WBBM of Chicago came the article relating that members of the Walter Payton College Prep baseball team are refusing to play for the present coach.

I say to that one rousing, cheering, “GOOD FOR YOU, YOUNG MEN!”

The team captain brought the word out and if he is a good example the rest of the members will follow and that coach will not have the support of the team as a whole or members of the school community. Nor should he have their support as far as continuing him on the staff of the school or allowing anyone to play on a team run by him. If he is being a bully he needs another kind of support.

It is hoped that the members of the Payton team will continue to set a good example, but they cannot do that unless they have first a new coach and second a full understanding of what happened between them and the folks of the Brooks College Prep community. A breakfast between members of the teams is a fine idea and was apparently a huge success, but it will take more than one shared meal of bacon, eggs, and pancakes to foster understanding and better relations.

To be good sports it is essential that you begin with the first quality of what it means to be a good citizen, and that is RESPECT FOR OTHERS. These days it should never, ever matter what someone looks like or what they dress like or what their living situation is. Proverbially you cannot judge the book by its cover, so why judge instantaneously on someone’s skin color, someone’s mode of dress, someone’s accessories or hairstyle or anything else that is so changeable and variable.

English: Team publicity photo for 1919 Chicago...

English: Team publicity photo for 1919 Chicago American Giants, an African American baseball team (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Respect for others means exactly that – showing civility, courtesy, and decency towards EVERYONE YOU MEET. Rules of civility and good manners have been written and discussed for centuries, so the topic remains important to the expansion of understanding of human behavior and interactions and societies. Respect for others also takes in the aspects of trustworthiness, accountability, honesty, service, duty, and responsibility, all of these essential aspects of being a good citizen.

Baseball is supposed to be fun after all, and the element of the sport of baseball is the team. By its very nature, the term “team” implies that more than one person is coming together to work on something and to accomplish a goal. In the case of getting out there and playing a baseball game, everything about being a good citizen comes together – the respect, the trust, the preparation, the duties. Each member is expected to show up, to work out, to prepare by stretching and warming up and batting practice and fielding practice. Each member should be expected to come looking professional, with hair trimmed, with clothes neat, with a clean uniform, with no offensive odors or the wearing of fragrances that could cause others to sneeze or have allergic reactions.

Once the members are assembled and the team meetings are over, when the practices are done and when the fans are gathering, that is when the rubber meets the road, or in this case when the batter’s feet touch base. When you are then in the presence of thousands of supporting fans, who have paid good money to come see you, who have driven, taken busses, maybe even flown in for the game, or walked to the ballpark; when you see them sitting back and eating the popcorn, the hot dogs, the sodas or the nachos or the corn dogs, then you know you have something to work for.

That goal is not only to win the game but to be good sports, win or lose. And even when you lose the game score -wise, you never really lose the chance to learn, now do you? There is always room for improvement, as my father reminds me every so often, and he is correct. No team is perfect, no person is perfect, no sports program is perfect and no baseball park is perfect, so those who play in and come to those venues must expect that certain things will happen. But to understand that, the teams have to come out and play and the fans have to come out and support them.

The International Space Station control room a...

The International Space Station control room at NASA’s Mission Control Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There can be no more of such incidents as have stained Chicago’s world of high school and college prep sports as happened the past few days. Fortunately there was an opening for reconciliation.

There is one recommendation I would make for everyone involved in Brooks and in Payton, and that is to study NASA’s Mission Control. All the principles spoken of in this article are there, and you will find them, but on a different level. The people who designed and built and tested and worked with Mission Control really had a brilliant idea, and believe it, this is more than space science.

Study it, learn about it, and apply those principles. President Kennedy gave us the ball to run with to work up the space program, and this nation took it, ran with it, and put a crew on the Moon. Mission Control then… Mission Control now.


Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields i...

Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey (lithograph by Currier and Ives) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.