I believe sports can change your life. I believe competition can change the way you think about things. I believe visiting new places and interacting with others will make clear to you how good, yet different, everyday life can be.
As far back as I can remember, sports have been my passion. I always think to myself, “Where would I be right now if I wasn’t out there playing?” sports has never taken a negative toll on me and I have yet to regret anything sports has, or will do to me.
In June of 2006, I tried out for a U.S.A baseball team that was traveling to the Dominican Republic for a week to represent the United States of America. As soon as I found out I had made the team, my life changed.
Gliding into the Santa Domingo national airport, I realized how different that country was. I could see huts; the size of a small kitchen, with families living in them. Just as we touched the runway, I looked over to see a group of kids playing baseball on a vacant runway. This was shocking at first but that was what the country was all about. The true love for baseball.
When we headed out of the terminal to collect our luggage, we noticed hundreds of people by the main exit in big lines, forming an aisle way. At first we weren’t sure if they were for us, but when we walked out on our way to the bus, they all cheered and clapped for us. This is a memory that will stick with me. Forever.
From the airport to the hotel resort, I could already tell the Dominicans feelings towards us. They treated us like gold.
We ended up playing 5 games and losing 4 of them. However, the best part was when an 11-year-old team spanked us. But that was none of our worries. We came there to represent the U.S.A, which we did with pride and honor.
The experience provided me how different a third world country can be. Here in the U.S.A, baseball is a privilege, while in the Dominican it was their life. Every time I have a practice or game, I now realize how privileged I am to have all the things I do. Schooling, good shelter, clean food, and family.
That being said, next time when you’re looking for something to do, call up a few friends. Go to the park, play some catch, shoot some hoops, or kick the ball around. It might just change your life. Forever.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.