From time to time, I get kind of down about the state of the world. It seems like there's less compassion and consideration than yesterday with more and more people becoming increasingly self-centered. The news tends to celebrate individual accomplishments and leads with tragedies, while true acts of compassion are relegated to "in other news" sections of newspapers. This morning, I caught a story on SportsCenter that went a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity.
During a college softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington, Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky hit her first-ever home run. The two teams were separated by a single game with the chance of going to the NCAA tournament on the line. It seemed like a perfect story for Tucholsky, but that story took a dramatic turn as she rounded first base. She missed tagging the base and then doubled back to touch it. In doing so, she tore her ACL and fell to the ground unable to get up under her own power. The other base runners had already tagged home and were back in the dugout. A little known fact: a home run is not an automatic run, you must touch all bases for it to count. She could have stayed at first base and been replaced by a pinch runner, but that would have counted only as a single.
No other offensive players are allowed to come onto the field; once they do, the play is dead and she is called out. Central Washington's Mallory Holtman, the division II owner of multiple softball offense records, realized that she could help Tucholsky without penalty. As she said, she knew Tucholsky from playing with her and knew how important a home run for a senior is. She and teammate Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky and brought her to each base, making the home run official.
This is perhaps one of the most selfless acts that I've ever seen in sports. Being members of the opposing team and knowing that they would be down by 3 runs instead of 2, these two girls went above doing what was right: they redefined what right meant. For most people, right would have been to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and say, "that's too bad, she's a gutsy kid." One could argue that that's exactly what would mappen in Major League Baseball or even men's college baseball. Is it that women really are just more caring and considerate? I don't think so; I think that these particular girls were more caring and considerate than most people regardless of gender.
The biggest shame about all of this is that the story was buried almost as quickly as it was reported. I searched for a good 10 minutes online to find a decent account of what actually happened. It wasn't on the front page of any major sports site. This is something that should be celebrated and talked about as often as possible. Kids should hear about this story and understand that this is what we call sportsmanship. Anyone who's ever played a sport should look inside themselves and ask if they would've done the same thing. And everyone should feel better that people like these girls exist.