Sportsmanlike conduct

Picture for a moment that it’s the end of September and that we’re at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox play the Yankees for a spot in the playoffs. The place is electric and the game, stretching into its sixth hour, is still scoreless. We’re munching on a Fenway frank when A-Rod comes to the plate and hits one out of the park. The beauty of the stunned silence is that fans can hear the moment his knee blows out as he rounds first base. Because this is Boston, we cheer. If A-Rod can’t make it home, the run won’t count. His teammates can’t touch him, and the rivalry between the teams has reached the point where Sox fans would trample his grandmother if it meant beating the Yankees, so we stand by and watch A-Rod writhe in pain and ultimately be carried off the field in a stretcher. The Sox win. The crowd goes wild.

If you’re a softball team of young women in the Northwest, however, you don’t operate that way. Sara Tucholsky, a senior at Western Oregon found herself crumbling to the ground when she had to go back and tag first base, unable even to crawl. The umpire reminded her teammates that if they touched her, the homerun (her first homerun ever) wouldn’t count. So, in an act of sportsmanship that celebrates the generosity of women, two members of the opposing team spontaneously picked her up and carried her around the bases, effectively ending their run toward the playoffs. Had that been A-Rod, we might have kicked him as he crawled toward second. But not Mallory Holtman. She knows the feeling of hitting a home run (she leads Central Washington in that stat) and grabbed another teammate to help the injured runner to gently touch each base before resuming the game and losing—if you think losing can be determined by something as insignificant as the score.

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