Recently I went to see a baseball game. The New York Yankees were playing the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Usually I am perfectly content to watch sports on TV in the comforts of home and avoid the contingencies of weather and traffic, and the costs of parking, tickets and concessions. I am also sensitive to our society’s tendency to put so much emphasis and time and money and passion into what is a game, when much weightier matters deserve our attention.
However, what I experienced at Yankee Stadium has elevated my evaluation of high-profile sports. At the Stadium I was among nearly 50,000 people of both genders and a great variety of races, ages, and, I assume, political affiliations, all enjoying life together in harmony and unity of purpose. Also, on the field of dreams were whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Neither in the seats nor on the playing fields was there any evidence of prejudice, segregation, classes, quotas or affirmative action. Everyone was united in his concern for putting the best people in place to win. They all cheered just as excitedly for the good performer no matter what color he was.
It all began with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and before the bottom of the seventh inning as a community we stood and paid tribute to our veterans, and in a combination of patriotism and reverence sang or at least respectfully stood, caps removed, at the singing of “God Bless America,” and then as a united congregation sang together, “Root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame….”
I wondered if there was a way to transfer that spirit outside the Stadium, and into our government, schools and neighborhoods. Maybe our politicians could learn something if they just said, “Take me out to the ballgame.”