“There’s No Crying in Baseball”

(This is the eighth post in a series on wisdom from baseball co-written with Mark Stanifer.)

It’s a movie line. It’s funny. It’s memorable. But it’s not accurate. 

We may try to maintain an “it’s only a game” mentality in our recreational endeavors. But like it or not, our passions have a way of seeping out. Positive and negative, character and opinions, warts and all. 

In the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own, actor Tom Hanks plays character Jimmy Dugan. Dugan is a washed-up former ball player, who’s now a drunk managing a women’s baseball team. Not exactly how he thought his life would turn out. Dugan didn’t want his players showing any emotion that wasn’t related to the game. He didn’t care about his player’s personal lives. He wasn’t interested in contributing to their lives off the field. Why? Largely because he wasn’t managing his own life off the field very well. Here’s the truth: You can’t lead, manage, or contribute well to a team when you aren’t managing yourself well.

Suppressing your emotions isn’t managing yourself well. Crying along with other forms of expression is our body’s relief mechanism. Hurt or joy. Confusion or celebration. Frustration or praise. Disappointment or worship. Doubt it? Watch the World Series. Guaranteed there will be tears from these men, both the winners and the losers, once the final game has been played.

As fans, we understand this, expect it. In a way, it makes these superheroes of their sport somehow more human. We can relate to them more this way.

What about non-baseball life, the emotions of average life day to day? Many people choose to join Hanks in deceiving themselves into believing this line, “There’s No Crying in Life.” The reasons why are varied: perceived as weakness, doesn’t help the situation, there’s no time, real men don’t cry. These are all based on concern about how you will be perceived by others.

Perception can feel like reality, but that doesn’t make it true or beneficial. Brené Brown addresses some of this in her book Daring Greatly. She writes,

“We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgment and criticism. We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. Vulnerability is life’s great dare. It’s life asking, “Are you all in?””

The reality is there is crying in life. Choosing to live otherwise leads to many wrong efforts in dealing with life. Frankly, it’s full of pride and selfishness which tears down a team rather than unites it.

With my best Hanks impression I’ll say this, “Get over it. Crying is a good thing. Go ahead. Let it out. It’s part of life. Your teammates will thank you. And mostly, so will you.”

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