A show of sportsmanship
Little Leaguers provide best sports news of the week
There was a lot of controversial sports news this week – word that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will likely get a five-year contract extension, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones tested positive for anabolic steroid for the second time in 14 months, the rally for Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters and the continuing debate over his national anthem protests, and ESPN ranking Ohio State atop its inaugural Fan Happiness Index, which gauges fan sentiment at 128 Football Bowl Subdivision programs. It’s enough to make even the most diehard sports fan sick. But in all of the seeming bad news was an absolute diamond of a tale from Williamsport, Penn.
On Monday night, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic faced off in the Little League World Series. Dominican Edward Uceta has shone bright in the tournament, but gave up a triple resulting in a 3-2 walk-off win for Venezuela, which moved the South American nation to the next round. Dejected for seemingly failing his team, Uceta collapsed facedown in agony at the pitcher’s mound.
What came next was pure class and the personification of sportsmanship. The Venezuelan players halted their revelry to pick up their rival and consoled his pain with hugs and words of encouragement.
“It was sad,” Venezuela manager Alexander Ballesteros said after his team’s win according to ESPN. “It could have happened to anyone.”
In the handshake line after the game, Venezuela’s players and coaches continued to embrace and encourage Uceta.
Touched by Venezuela’s humbleness in victory, Dominican manager Jose Cordero said, “We're all Latino; we're brothers.”
In a time when a walk off could solicit the batter to chop at his pelvis bragadociously, it was refreshing to see players remember that joy for the victor comes with pain for the vanquished. The Little League World Series, with its athletes untainted by the chase of cash, seems to remind us every year of the good in sports and the pure love of the game. Monday night’s example is one that will live on in the tournament’s history.
The finals of the LLWS air on ABC this weekend, with the international championship Saturday at 11:30 a.m., the U.S. championship Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The third-place game will air Sunday at 9 a.m. The Little League World Series championship game will run Sunday at 2 p.m.