Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The ultimate act of sportsmanship

This is not totally on subject given that the focus of my blog is about learning and instructional design...well maybe it is.

I came across this story at Neatorama, a general interest blog, but I think it can serve as a learning moment. The lesson to be learned: teamwork can stretch beyond just individuals in your own group. Here are two college sports teams "competing" when an unusual situation drives them together to cooperate for a higher goal. The lead for the ESPN story really tells it all.

Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career. Central Washington senior Mallory Holtman was already her school's career leader in them. But when a twist of fate and a torn knee ligament brought them face to face with each other and face to face with the end of their playing days, they combined on a home run trot that celebrated the collective human spirit far more than individual athletic achievement.

To paraphrase the rest of the story, Tucholsky stumbles rounding 1st base as she is celebrating hitting the first home run of her college career and injures her knee to the point that she cannot stand let alone walk around the bases. Under the rules of the game she would be called "out" by the umpires if her teammates or coaches assist her. The only seeming alternative is to stop the play with her on first base, provide a pinch runner, and continue on with the game. Unfortunately, she would not be credited with a home run. That's when competition took a back seat.

"And right then," [Western Oregon coach Pam] Knox said, "I heard, 'Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?'"

The voice belonged to Holtman, a four-year starter who owns just about every major offensive record there is to claim in Central Washington's record book. She also is staring down a pair of knee surgeries as soon as the season ends. Her knees ache after every game, but having already used a redshirt season earlier in her career, and ready to move on to graduate school and coaching at Central, she put the operations on hold so as to avoid missing any of her final season. Now, with her own opportunity for a first postseason appearance very much hinging on the outcome of the game -- her final game at home -- she stepped up to help a player she knew only as an opponent for four years.

"Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me," Holtman said. "She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year. … I don't know, it's just one of those things I guess that maybe because compared to everyone on the field at the time, I had been playing longer and knew we could touch her, it was my idea first. But I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony."

Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began a slow trip around the bases, stopping at each one so Tucholsky's left foot could secure her passage onward. Even with Tucholsky feeling the pain of what trainers subsequently came to believe was a torn ACL (she was scheduled for tests to confirm the injury on Monday), the surreal quality of perhaps the longest and most crowded home run trot in the game's history hit all three players.

I truly recommend you read the whole article, its amazing. Education, like almost any other area of human endeavor, has become so competitive that we miss out on the simple truth that we need to help and support one another. I know it sounds hackneyed, but as we develop instruction, especially asynchronous, we need to make sure that there is some sort of helping hand out there that a learner can turn to when they are unclear on something or are frustrated by a problem. This perhaps is the true bonus that Web 2.0 elements have to offer.

ESPN - Central Washington offers the ultimate act of sportsmanship - College Sports

1 comment:

Telma said...

People should read this.