On Tuesday, during the Southwestern Regional Championship of the Little League World Series in Waco, Texas, 12-year-old Kaiden Shelton, pitching for East Texas, unleashed a fastball toward home plate when a terrible thing happened.
It smacked right into the batting helmet of 12-year-old Isiah Jarvis, playing for Oklahoma. The pitch knocked off Jarvis’ helmet and left him sprawled in the dirt, clutching his head. A nationwide ESPN audience saw it. And they saw what happened next.
The good news is, that Jarvis was not seriously hurt and went to first base. On the mound, Shelton was beside himself, thinking that his errant pitch might have caused terrible harm. Seeing a distraught Shelton, Jarvis walked over, gave Shelton a big hug, and said “hey, you’re doing just great.”
The moment went viral, as all moments must. It was hailed on social media as a stunning display of sportsmanship. It wasn’t. Sportsmanship is competing fairly and honestly and may the best team win. I prefer to think of it as simple human kindness. One person on Twitter said that Oklahoma had the East Texas pitcher rattled, and should have taken advantage. I really hope he was kidding, but as a sportscaster, I spend a lot of time at athletic contests between kids, so…
The Oklahoma coach told the Washington Post if the batter had been someone other than Isaiah Jarvis, one “might think he was going out to punch the guy.” Gee, I can’t imagine where a 12-year-old boy would get an idea like that. Perhaps, from other televised baseball games featuring men who have forgotten what it is to be 12.
So well done, Isiah Jarvis. But while the world celebrates what he did, at least until the next viral moment, I’m left with one question that haunts me. Well, two really.
What the hell kind of world do I live in where one human being showing kindness toward another is seen as extraordinary? Why do we put 12-year-olds on national TV playing for regional, national, and world championships when they should be home learning how to be kind to one another?
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Ted is a longtime staple of the Finger Lakes media scene. He serves as lead anchor and broadcaster, hosting FingerLakes1.com’s flagship daily live program Finger Lakes Today. He also hosts Inside the FLX, a recurring podcast featuring newsmakers from around the Finger Lakes. Have a question or lead? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.