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Cow Pie:

A few nights ago, I went to pick up our 12-year-old twin boys at a softball game. I parked the car close enough to the field where I could see what was going on, but far enough away to keep from getting hit by a stray ball.

As I watched, I realized there were a few noticeable differences in this game and most games I had been to lately. For starters, there were boys and girls on both teams. There were even some adults playing. The players didn’t wear fancy uniforms. Most of them had on jeans and T-shirts. There were no umpires and no coaches that I could see. No one was sitting on the bench; everyone who wanted to play got to play. There were two girls in left field and three or four in right. Center field was covered by some little boys who were more interested in each other’s new sneakers than the game.

There were a few people in the stands and at first I thought they were parents, but then again, I wasn’t sure. None of them was shouting obscenities or hurling insults. In fact, everyone I saw was smiling. The game ended and everyone walked off the field, still smiling—the team that lost didn’t stomp off the field or throw their bats. It was the strangest thing I’ve seen since old man Martin’s cow had a two-headed calf.

It reminded me of the softball games we used to play at my grandfather’s house on Sunday afternoons when I was a child. All the adults and children would get out in the front yard and divide into teams. It was always hot and muggy and there was always plenty of iced tea and lemonade. If the ball went across the highway it was a home run. If it went in the field and landed in a cow pie you were out.

Maybe the problem with organized sports is simply that they are organized. Sometimes we need to play a game not because we want to compete for a prize or a trophy, but simply because we want to have fun.

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