The true sports heroes to admire

Who are the real sports heroes we should look up to? We idolize big league players who are given too much money to play a game. Where do the real American sports heroes play? Drive by almost any neighborhood park, in any city, in any state and you’ll find grown men and women playing softball. Twelve to sixteen inches, slow pace or fast pace. Good old American softball.

Many fine working-class people play softball two or three nights a week. My dad played sixteen inches until the day he died. Five to six nights a week, the grown men would gather to balance huge chunks of wood, get a little exercise, and then commiserate at the local watering hole. Coincidentally, the same venue sponsors the team. These guys and gals often wake up at dawn and work jobs they may or may not like. With every brutal minute that passes, these dedicated sports heroes are thinking about tonight’s game.

Growing up in Chicago, our softball of choice was the 16-inch Clincher. No gloves, just bats and bare hands. The best guys have paw-like hands and a certain athletic grace that sometimes only translates to sixteen-inch softball. It is a beautiful game to play. This game created deformities and we continue to play. Never ask a sixteen inch softball player for directions. He will point to three different locations around the city the moment you raise your hand. Guys who limp worse than my high school auto shop teacher, and that guy could barely walk. That is the true dedication of the sports hero in my book.

These men and women play the sport until one of two things happens. They can no longer move any limbs or they die. Folks, those are true sports heroes. Don’t let your children admire men who charge exorbitant amounts of money and dedicate their entire existence to their sport. Ask them to go see the boys and girls at their local park playing in leagues that require each player to shell out hard-earned money to play. Ask them to talk and have fun with the guy who just spent all day cleaning your son’s school, but still gets into the game he loves because he has dedicated his life to his sport, but does it simply because he love the game.

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