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Player Down
by Terry Barlow
05/06/14
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Saw a baseball game for a change recently. It was a close game with a dramatic conclusion. In extra innings the home team's batter sent a long drive to right field with the bases loaded. The right fielder leaped high against the wall and nearly made a spectacular catch. He is a controversial player anyway, so it seemed appropriate to see him rebounding "off the wall" which many think is characteristic of him. What stunned him was the hard surface of the wall, but what stunned me was what transpired next. As his head bounced off the wall, he toppled downward and landed in a heap on his side wincing in pain, the opposing team rushed onto the field celebrating and swamping the one who had just hit this long drive off the wall. Not one of these rejoicing players seemed to notice or care about the fallen player at the foot of the wall. Maybe they thought, "serves him right for even trying" such an impossible circus feat, though if one of their own had saved a game that way, it would be heroism. True, they had just won the game and had cause to celebrate, but what was amazing was their indifference toward the injured outfielder. There was no tempering of their joy with any concern or certainly not sympathy. One of their pets injured this way would surely have drawn more compassion. Sympathy is for fellow life forms after all and perhaps being on the 'other team" demotes a player beneath animal status. Whatever, this calloused display was even more "off the wall" than the bizarre antics of any eccentric athlete. Sportsmanship would call for celebration yes, but celebration tempered and muted some by a concern for a fellow athlete and human being, out of the awareness of how fragile is the human body and how evanescent its season of strength and success. We all must be careful what and how we applaud, it is even more telling than what we denounce. The attempted catch was undoubtedly a dangerous one, but the reaction to it or lack of one seems to this fan even more dangerous.



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