Baseball and Diabetes
It is spring, and baseball is in the air. I never played sports as a kid, but when my sons got to be older they fell in love with the game. Both my sons played first base, pitched and played in some games as, catcher, outfield, third and second base. Each son was a fine hitter and my wife, I and the family loved going to the games and we followed them all over the Midwest watching them play.
I think what I loved the most was just watching them be successful, particularly at something I could not do. They would play and have success and I was amazed at the beauty and grace they exhibited. I was also so excited that they were in a position where they were being taught by other men who were far better than I could have ever been. From year to year they came under the tutelage of men I admired and respected, and who taught them not just how to play the game, but also about life.
I know that two men talked incessantly about golf. I don’t play golf and don’t enjoy the game but both of my sons today play golf and enjoy watching it on television. To some extent their love of the game of golf rubbed off on me. So I now watch the game on television so when I see my sons we can talk about it if they desire. Of course golf is but one example of the influence that the various coaches, parents, and older players had on my sons. They taught them values some good some not so good and they literally showed the world to my sons. Again it was this diversity that I wanted to encourage so they my sons could see that there were different ways of seeing and dealing with the world.
Along the way I grew to truly love the game of baseball. One fellow told me baseball is a metaphor for life. Over time I started to see it as a macrocosm for diabetes management. Here is what I learned.
1. The best team does not always win. As in diabetes management we can do everything right and still for some reason, our outcomes are not always the best. I once saw a game where the team my son played for was superior. Yet, because of overconfidence, bad luck, bad bounces, and some luck the other team didn’t just win, they decimated the superior team.
2. The quality of bats and gloves do not, all by themselves, make a difference in the game. I knew that in order to be successful my sons needed quality equipment. But quality equipment is only a tool. The best mitt will not catch a ball if the player is not skilled enough. So it is true with diabetic equipment. The best meters and log books will not manage diabetes; they are tools, not players in diabetic management.
3. Stealing is appropriate sometimes. A player on first stealing second is a great play when used correctly. In diabetic management it is sometimes ok to take a risk. Not everything need play the same every time. Sometimes we should veer off course and try something new. It might work out well.
4. Dropped balls happen; you have to play thru adversity. In almost every single game something goes horribly wrong. The infielder muffs a grounder, the pitcher loses control, or the outfielder loses a fly ball. In fact you can count on something going wrong. It is not the error that defines the outcome it is how you deal with that counts. In diabetes management we know almost every day something goes wrong. You under or over carb count, a change does not work, or we forget to write down a result. Yet the game goes on and we have to keep playing.
5. Practice is a key to success. In baseball, practice is a key; the team plays only as well as they practice. With diabetes we get better with practice. The first day a type 1 is given an orange we may have the knowledge but not the skill to finesse our disease management to a better place.
6. Winning is great, but the very next game, you might get beat. In diabetes Thursday may be great but Friday might be awful. Yes success is an indicator of how things might go. But it can also be the harbinger of failure. We don’t know if on Wednesday we caught a cold and Friday even a well-executed Friday, might be a mess because of a virus.
7. Bounces cut both ways over time. You see a strange bounce mess up a play and you have to wonder how something so random might foul the outcome. In diabetes a weird bounce, say a restaurant that puts in more carbohydrates than expected can really foul a diet, thus our results.
8. Over time the best team usually wins. It’s a matter of odds. The odds favor the prepared the practiced, and the team with the best players. In diabetes those who pay attention, who practice the most have the odds favor them. Not every time, but over time the odds favor the prepared.
As you can see there are tons of parallels between what we do every day. I encourage each of you to consider your own diabetic management. I know when I do I think of baseball and the men who taught my sons and me the game.