Have Your Team's Back
One of my favourite movies is A League of Their Own. It’s a fabulous film for so many reasons, not the least of which because I was 10 and at the height of my softball life.
Softball was life. It was something that I looked forward to every summer. I remember that I made a ton of friends throughout my time in the sport, travelled all around Ontario and even went to the US a few times, and I was actually good at it. I enjoyed getting better. I took it so seriously, but also had a blast. It was so fun.
But the thing that was super important to me as I look back, was being an important member of a team. Knowing that the people you play with have your back is something that is invaluable. And is an important part of why teamwork is so important to me, and guides my leadership decisions today.
Which is why no one will be surprised when I say that the ending to the World Series in the movie is just devastating and ridiculous. And I say this not as a softball fan, but also as a big sister.
Let me recap the 10 minutes before the debacle. Dottie gave up. She quit. And her excuse, “It just got too hard.” Ugh. It is just the worst. Then, out of nowhere, she shows up at game 7 ready to play. She actually schools her sister by hitting a line drive at Kit’s head, putting her team in the lead by one run as they go into the bottom of the 9th inning. And then she makes us believe she is all in by giving the pitcher great advice when her sister comes to the plate (with 2 out might I add), “High fastballs. Can’t hit ‘em, can’t lay off ‘em.” Kit decides she is not striking out on high fastballs today, and hits one (with two strikes) far into the outfield. The tying run scores and she decides she is going for an in-the-park homerun so she can go tete-a-tete with her sister at the plate.
Then the part that just makes every real player cringe - Dottie gets run over and drops the ball. We all remember the scene where she gets pummelled earlier in the movie and she doesn’t drop the ball, right? RIGHT!??! Never mind that she could have just moved out of the way and tagged her (she had a lifetime to move out of the way based on the relay throw).
Kit wins the World Series for Racine! She becomes a hero! No longer in her sister’s shadow, she is now free to love Dottie for all that she is.
Here’s the deal: You don’t leave your team hanging because your sister can’t get it together. Her whole team lost because she felt she had to build up her sister. I know some of you might read this and think I am the most unfeeling sister in the world. But even my little sister (who also played softball) agrees. Have your team’s back.
Kit felt better about herself because her sister sacrificed something for her. Although that can be super powerful, what is sad for me is that Kit never learned the lesson that kept showing up for her: True happiness comes from the inside. External events are helpful, but if Kit has a perspective problem (she claims that Dottie never has her back, she actually is, “holding me back”), this one event will not last as the inner fuel she needs to keep going.
It actually amazed me how upsetting this ending is for me still, 28 years later.
But let’s end this on a positive note! Can we admire this iconic scene (thank you Tom Hanks for delivery, and the genius writing of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel):
There's no crying in baseball. Especially when you as the little sister would have lost fair and square.