On April 26, 2008, Sara Tucholsky, a senior on the Western Oregon University softball team, stepped into the batter's box in the early innings of a game against rival Central Washington. The contest was important for both teams. Playoff berths were on the line.
The diminutive Tucholsky took a mighty swing at a pitch and knocked the ball over the left field fence. Then the unexpected happened. Sara accidently missed touching first base during her home run trot around the base path. When she pivoted back to touch the bag her cleats landed awkwardly in the ground and she tore a major ligament in her right knee.
Sara fell to the ground in agony and was unable to continue her required run around the bases. Her teammates could do nothing to help. The umpires — misinterpreting the rule book at such a bizarre moment — declared that Sara would be called out if anyone from her team assisted her around the bases. Her run would be taken off the score sheet.
But nothing was said about prohibiting help from someone on the opposing team. Without hesitation, Central Washington first base player Mallory Holtman, who was facing her final collegiate game if her team were to lose, chose to help her opponent score the home run she had rightfully earned. Mallory, along with teammate Liz Wallace, gently picked up Sara and carried her along the base path. They stopped at each bag — from first base to home plate — so Sara could touch the bases in compliance with the rules. (From the LDS Church News, Nov. 24).
These two young ladies were already aware of the immense difference between winning the game and human kindness. Somehow, this empathetic virtue should be encouraged in all sports. Unfortunately, bullying occurs because of the desire among young men and women of little empathy to be "macho" and show how tough they are by cleverly embarrassing or belittling or even hurting someone unable to defend themselves.
I would like to suggest a solution to stop bullying. Since all schools, in order to balance student education, require some proficiency in scholastic studies to qualify for membership on a particular team or in a pep club, why not add an additional requirement that includes a pledge to help prevent bullying and never be a bully themselves?
Any evidence that the pledge has been broken would result, after review, in disqualifying a student from team participation. Each year, evidence of success of a team member actively befriending any victim of bullying would be awarded an "Anti-Bullying Hero Award."
Many years ago, as a student at Granite High School and being large for my age, I would wander the halls during lunch and class changes to observe any bullying. Occasionally I would see some attempts to put an undersized student in a garbage can, but just knowing that someone who was not a party to bullying was watching, would stop these attempts from materializing.
Let's turn the tide on bullying by using these student athletes and pep club members, making heroes out of them thereby making bullying a frowned on activity instead of a horrible pastime.
Ruel received a degree in physics at BYU in 1959 and has several patents in the data processing and electronics field.
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