8 adorable ways the Little League World Series proves sportsmanship is alive

We can learn a lot from Little League.

Whether you're talking about the Deflategate controversy or just your run-of-the-mill bench-clearing brawl, sports can be a little, well, unsportsmanlike from time to time.

What's a fan to do to keep from becoming cynical? For me, the answer is simple: the Little League World Series.


You'll be smiling along from your living room couch. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Each summer, 16 of the top Little League teams from all over the world come together in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to compete for the championship. The quality of play is pretty amazing, but the best part about it, in my opinion, is how the players carry themselves.

The 10-day tournament ended on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, with Tokyo, Japan, beating Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, to take the title. Here are eight moments from the contest that remind us that sportsmanship is still alive.

1. Little Leaguers will show you when they're impressed — even if it's by their competitors.

It's hard to think of a more demoralizing situation than this: Webb City, Missouri, was already trailing Pennsylvania 14-0 when the Keystone State's Cole Wagner blasted a grand slam out of the park.

Instead of hanging his head in frustration, Missouri pitcher Mekhi Garrard's face was a picture of disbelief, awe, and admiration as he watched the ball sail over the fence.

Mekhi Garrard surrendered a homer and then looked really impressed by just how far it went. That's the spirit! Image via ESPN.

2. They apologize for their mistakes.

After Chinese Taipei pitcher Wei Hung Chou threw a pitch that struck Uganda's Joshua Olara, the pitcher immediately went over to first base. He took off his hat and bowed to Olara, who then returned this act of respect.

Classy: Uganda's Joshua Olara forgives the pitcher after being hit by a pitch. Image via ESPN.

When the next batter hit the ball, Olara slid hard into second, taking out a much smaller second baseman from Chinese Taipei. The Ugandan player was called out, but made sure to help his opponent up with a hug before returning to the dugout

A hard slide, but no hard feelings. Image via Little League Baseball and Softball.

3. Family comes first.

In a qualifying game, South Burlington, Vermont, was trailing Cranston, Rhode Island, 6-0 with pitcher Vermont's Seamus McGrath having a rough time on the mound. Sean McGrath, the team's manager (and the pitcher's father), made the call to bring in a new pitcher, a decision no dad would envy.

After explaining the switch to his team, he made sure to give his son a hug and tell him, “'I'm so proud of you. I love you kid," before heading back to the dugout.

Sean McGrath hugs his son Seamus. We're tearing up over here. Image via ESPN.

4. They'll acknowledge a great play, even if it gives their opponents the lead.

In extra innings of an international semifinal game, Japan gave up two home runs to Venezuela to fall behind 4-2.

As Yeiner Fernandez, the Venezuelan player who hit the second homer, rounded the bases, he received a high five from the Japanese third baseman.

The third baseman gave Fernandez a high-five after his home run. Image via Little League Baseball and Softball.

5. Fans don't only cheer for the home team.

This year, Venezuela won the Latin American championship to make it to Williamsport. Broadcasters said no family members could afford to make the trip, but the team was not without a cheering section. Local fans came together to root for the squad from Venezuela.

A fan shows Venezuelan pride. ¡Chévere! Image via Little League Baseball and Softball

6. They support their teammates after tough calls.

In the sixth inning of the international final game, a Mexican outfielder nearly made a great catch in left field. Unfortunately, he dropped the ball when trying to throw it in, and the batter was called safe.

He was upset about the play, but his teammates immediately surrounded him to offer support and encouragement.

Team Mexico hugging it out. Image via Little League Baseball and Softball

7. Volunteers make the tournament possible.

The Little League World Series has become a huge event, with players and fans from all over the world coming to the competition. Many people volunteer to make the experience possible, from umpires and grounds crew, to concession stand workers and team hosts.

The folks in blue do it just for the love of the game. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

8. They keep things in perspective.

Japan beat Pennsylvania in the finals to become the 2015 Little League World Series champions. As hugs were exchanged in the handshake line, many of the Pennsylvania boys were smiling despite their loss (not the ones here, but trust me, some of them were!).

Good game, good game, good game. Now the pizza party? Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Because, at the end of the day, baseball is just a game, but the memories will last a lifetime.

More
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

There's a difference between dieting and being healthy, and often times, overattention to what you consume can lead to disordered eating. Eating disorders are dangerous and can affect anyone, but they're especially concerning in adolescents. Which is why WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is facing intense criticism for its new app, Kurbo, targeted toward kids ages eight to 17.

The app uses a traffic light system to tell kids which foods are a "green light" and can be eaten as much as they want, which foods are a "yellow light" and should be consumed with caution, and which "red light" foods they should probably avoid.

It seems like a simple system to teach kids what's good for them and what's not, but it regulates kids' diets in an unhealthy way. Gaining weight is a normal, healthy part of child development. Putting on a few pounds means your body is doing what it's supposed to do. While the app classifies foods with too much fat or calories as "red," children need to consume some of these foods to develop their brain.

WW is calling the app "common sense." As Gary Foster, the chief science officer of WW, puts it, items in the red foods category "aren't foods that should be encouraged in kids' diets, but they also shouldn't be vilified or demonized, and there has to be a system that's simple and science-based that highlights that so everyone in the family can understand."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
via Ostdrossel / Instagram

Lisa is a lifelong bird enthusiast who goes by the name Ostdrossel on social media. A few years ago, the Germany native moved to Michigan and was fascinated by the new birds she encountered.

Upon arriving in the winter, she fell in love with the goldfinches, cardinals, and Blue Jays. Then in the spring, she was taken by the hummingbirds.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

RELATED: This service dog and veteran are raising awareness for PTSD in inspiring ways

"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

Inclusivity