Food for Thought: Win or Lose, They’re Already Winners!!! …………. (a.k.a., “Boys to Men”)

Chicago South Side Boys make it to the Little League World Series championship game!!!

I'm writing this article the night before the Little League World Championship game against the South Korean team.

The team from Chicago, called Jackie Robinson West, from the Great Lake Region of the tournament, are not just throwing baseballs, but throwing out lessons all of us adults can learn from.

I grew up in Chicago, not on the South Side persay, but the "just as gritty", blue collar, steeltown of Chicago Heights in the South Suburbs.

Baseball was my first sports love, so I feel a special connection to these South Side Youngsters, who in so many ways are so impressive, both on the baseball field and off.

It's not true that the entire South Side of Chicago is all bad, it cranked out the first African American/Mixed Race President, who still has a home on the South Side.

Some nice neighborhoods, but many others where the growing up is hard, and too many influences will easily take young black men down the wrong road…trust me, I know first hand!!!

But these kids are showing the world that corner of the globe, rich in history and heritage, is still a place where boys can become men, and bring some much needed positive images to the South Side, to Chicago, to Illinois, and to the country as a whole.

Chicago, my old hometown, from what I hear, is in a frenzy about the team and the big game tomorrow, one of my friends told me they have a big parade planned……win or lose.

Initially, I thought I would wait until after the game, and if my boys from Chicago win the championship against South Korea, then I would write the article.

However, it occurred to me, though of course I want them to win, it s not about winning the game, its about the images that these young men are presenting to the world, with their sportsmanship, their articulate and well spoken interviews, and overall positive, almost professional attitude.

Sportsmanship you cannot teach……..I had a clip [which is no longer on the web] of The Philadelphia team's Kai Cummings crushing a home run to threaten to kick the South Side Jackie Robinson West team out of the tournament in a recent game…as Cummings rounds first base in his home run trot, Chicago Jackie Robinson West player Trey Hondras reaches out to shake Cumming's hand…..WOW!!!!

I am well aware we all are affected by the images thrown at us day in and day out via TV, social medial, and all the rest.

I learned growing up in Chicago, that a young man (or woman), can be shaped by whatever images are thrown in front of you, good or bad………….

Trey Hondras shows us after the opponents home run, "Okay, we're from different "hoods", different streets, different schools, wear different colors, but its cool, I'm gonna get you next inning, but man to man, good play brother". If only adults could have that attitude!!!

So, I am so thrilled to see these South Side ballers throw out such positive imagery, that will no doubt affect many other young people, perhaps giving them that extra incentive to go down the right path in life, live that healthy, holistic lifestyle, and use the baseball and glove as their weapon of choice to say to the the world…

"Hey world , I exist, my life has meaning, I have discipline, I am manufacturing my own positive reality, I have something to contribute to the world………."

So win or lose tomorrow, they have already won the game of positive imagery, in a place and time where it is much needed.

(p.s. The Little Leaguer's code of sportsmanship compels me to wish the South Korean team good luck as well, let's have a great game tomorrow!!!)


New Edition: "Boys to Men": (For all you "young brothers" out there… STAY STRONG!!!)

~3 days after the big game~

The "Super Funky Heroes" of the Jackie Robinson West team lost the final game, 8-4, to what was acknowledged by everyone, a bigger, better, superior South Korean team (Congrats Korea!!!).

I personally was devastated, but once again, the gang showed me how to take the loss with class and professionalism, as they joked with Korean players, and showed them "cool" handshakes after the game.

Parade was today, and thousands turned out to give the team what one news reporter called,
"A Heroes Welcome".

~stay healthy~


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