A universal language

From today’s Detroit News article: Play ball! An interesting look at the power of sports, especially the latter, “You get used to losing” part.

Classrooms at Hanley International Academy in Hamtramck are filled with the children of recent immigrants. Many don’t speak English. Yet in the past few weeks, baseball has unified them in a way arithmetic never did.

Students wrote “Bless You Boys” in Arabic, Bosnian and Polish on posters that adorn the school hallways. Classmates who seldom work together on school projects because of language differences discovered that when they cheered, they all sounded the same.

“The Tigers have become a universal language for them,” said Principal Carolyn Glover. “It’s brought them together like nothing we’d done before.”

Perhaps it’s too much to believe baseball can change the world. A Kenny Rogers shutout won’t stop looming layoffs at Ford. A Magglio Ordonez home run won’t turn the housing market around. When the World Series ends and the lights at Comerica Park are turned off for the season, fans will turn their attention back to their lives. They’ll worry about their jobs, try to balance their checkbooks and face the curveballs that life throws at them.

But Rigelhof thinks there may be a lesson he can take away from the fairy-tale season of a team no one believed in.

“You get used to losing,” he said. “Some days, you sort of wonder if it’s ever going to change.”

But if you believe long enough and hard enough, things will turn around.

“It’s been like a dream,” Rigelhof said. “I don’t want it to end.”

By Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a marketer, blogger and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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