Youth sports is full of a lot of lessons for kids and parents alike, and what happened between these Little League players at a recent game has has given us all one of the most important lessons of all on sportsmanship.
The moment, caught on video, has gone massively viral and it’s easy to see why. In it, a 12-year-old Little League player gets hit in the head with a fastball—but he recovers quickly, thankfully. He then sees that the pitcher who accidentally hit him is, understandably, upset and shaken up by the ordeal. What began as a very scary moment ended up being an incredibly sweet demonstration of empathy.
Kaiden Shelton, a pitcher for Texas East, threw the fastball for batter Isaiah Jarvis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he lost control of his pitch, sending the ball right into Isaiah’s helmet. The big moment happened at the Southwest Region championship Little League game at Marvin Norcross Stadium in Waco, Texas, earlier this week.
“I wanted to make sure he was all right,” Isaiah told NBC News. “And I wanted to make sure he knew that I was all right.”
In the video, you can see Isaiah falling to the ground, clutching his head as the game stops and everyone rushes to see if he’s OK.
“I was shaken up because I’ve never been hit a ball that hard,” Isaiah says.
You can see the moment Isaiah realized that Kaiden was upset. He pauses, takes it in, and then ran right over to the pitcher’s mound to reassure Kaiden he was alright.
“It was the most remarkable thing I think I’ve ever seen in my life,” Isaiah’s coach, Sean Kouplen, told The Washington Post. “Hitting someone in the head is not an easy thing to overcome, mentally and emotionally. If you hit a guy, you’d probably be pretty down on yourself after that, and emotional, and you’ve got to think: ‘Is he OK? Did I just give him a concussion?’ So I was making sure he was OK and was telling him I was OK and just telling him it was fine.”
Kouplen is correct. Concussions are something most people associate with football in sports, not baseball. But head injuries account for 17% of all injuries in professional baseball—often requiring surgical treatment.
It’s no wonder Kaiden was feeling a rush of emotion and anxiety after accidentally hitting his opponent.
“Hey, you’re doing just great. Let’s go,” Isaiah tells Kaiden in the viral video as he gently hugs him to show that not only is he alright, but that it’s OK to feel your feelings about it. Now that is what healthy masculinity and good sportsmanship looks like. What an amazing example to show the world about boys and sports.
“We felt bad for each other. I felt bad for hurting him and he felt bad for when I was crying and he came and hugged me and made me feel better,” Kaiden told NBC News.
Isaiah’s team, Texas East, went on to win the game, but this viral Little League moment is the most apt display of how it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Many people on the internet agree.
“Being a good person is more important than being a great player,” Isaiah’s dad told The Washington Post, “and seeing him exemplify that on the field today, and on television—which I didn’t even know it was on TV in that moment—seeing him do that just makes me really proud.”