Sports and Liberties

Have you ever considered the relationship among freedom, family and franks?

Our recent visit to New England brought us a few unexpected detours, and one of the best was a last minute decision to sit in with the Sox in famous Fenway Park.

Besides the chance for some good old-fashioned leisure, catching a game gave me the opportunity to help my grandkids make some connections between the things they love (like taking time out to watch sports) and the things they should treasure (like a country that gives its citizens space to pursue their own greatness). Sports, like baseball, give us another aspect of personal liberty. One of the blessings of freedom is to produce opportunities for talent discovery in the areas of competition and personal improvement. We can’t help but admire those who develop their personal talent and have the courage to put it on display. Americans are strivers, go-getters, and innovative thinkers. In fact, what could be more American than “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie”—except perhaps as one car company suggested in 1976 that we expand the slogan from a trio to a quartet by adding the word Chevrolet!

Of course, all ball games begin with the National Anthem!

Fenway Park—It never gets old! Built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, this is one of the most beautiful and storied baseball parks in America. It is a stunning beauty on the inside. As we toured this park it was evident just how much history it holds.

Sports finds its genesis in education. The pursuit of athletic greatness has allowed many dreams to come true, but not without desire, determination, and grit.

A Fenway Frank is also a necessity!

A grandson named Boston is also important! Can you tell who that is?

A Look at the History-Makers

As a boy I loved the stories of Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Here is what the baseball legend Babe Ruth wrote of his school experience:

Ruth was sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School at the age of seven. There he met Brother Matthias who Ruth said “was the greatest man I’ve ever known. Brother Matthias studied what few gifts I had and drew those out of me. He always built me up…when I would have trouble with my studies….he’d help me—though he had a hundred other things to do. He taught me to read and write and he taught me the difference between right and wrong.”

Ruth’s education was achieving its primary purpose, which is to teach true and false, good and bad, right and wrong. Aristotle called this being “of great soul.” A soul is defined as “the spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man, which distinguishes him from brutes; that part of man which enables him to think and reason, and which renders him a subject of moral government.” (Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language 1828)

I loved the fact that Babe Ruth was never afraid to strike out. While holding the record for strikeouts he also held the home run record for decades at 714. He always tried to swing as hard as he could. He would hit big or miss big. His professional success informed his personal success. He knew that a team was made up of many players contributing in unison—and not individual stars. As the most successful player of his time, he often lent his teammates money with few paying him back. (O’Neil, William. 2004. Sports Leaders & Success: 55 Top Sports Leaders & How They Achieved Greatness. McGraw-Hill.)

Babe Ruth could pitch, field, and his batting was legendary. But my baseball hero growing up was Willie Mays.

Mays too came from humble circumstances. He could hit with power, field, run and throw. His fielding was legendary. His father told him that to be a professional baseball player he needed to do all those things very well. Mays’ mentor was his father, who taught him honesty, fairness with others, and a work ethic to excellence.

“The greatest athletes are talented, of course, but the best of all time generally reach that status by outworking everyone else of equal or greater talent.”

—William J. O’Neil, Founder Investor’s Business Daily

Learning From the Greats

Our visit to Fenway was punctuated with a visit to their museum of baseball heroes. There we observed souvenirs of those who overcame numerous challenges, with the most difficult being control over self.  Sitting in a display case was a Dodgers uniform with the number 42 which belonged to Jackie Robinson, perhaps the greatest baseball player ever. He lived at a time when black players were not allowed to compete in the major leagues—that is until Dodger President Branch Rickey put him on the team and taught him to not answer the slurs, taunts, or verbal abuse, but let his play on the field do the speaking.

By the time we walked out of Fenway, our stomachs were full of franks and our heads were full of stats, but I still hoped my grandchildren were coming away with more important lessons—the ones that had the power to influence their futures.

Successful people in all endeavors set goals, educate themselves in their passion, outwork others and are fiercely driven and determined to do what it takes to succeed. We lingered especially on the uniform of Jackie Robinson who broke the racial divide by perhaps his greatest victory—the one over self.  What a day!

Featured image attribution: Fenway Park

Published by Dean Forman

I am co-founder and CEO of the John Adams Academies, an institution that is perhaps the most unique charter school system in America today. The Academies’ curriculum is designed to give its students an American Classical Leadership Education®. This is an education that pursues truth, beauty and goodness and turns its scholars outward in search of those whom they can serve in becoming servant leaders. This website is dedicated to sharing the concepts of an American Classical Leadership Education with its readers so that more citizens can benefit from the truth, virtue and wisdom of the past. The thoughts and opinions I share on this page are my personal views.

One thought on “Sports and Liberties

  1. I love your patriotism, love of country and love of your neighbor and your fellowmen. Those little grandsons are so blessed to have such an awesome grandfather “mentor” – your enthusiasm for life and the beauties of the earth radiate from that beautiful inner-soul you possess. Thanks for always sharing your talents and strengths. You definitely make this a better world!

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