What we can learn from Cubs vulnerability, victory


Lily Katz

Citizens and Chicago Cubs fans celebrate at the 2016 World Series Rally in Chicago on Friday.

By Isabella Winkler, Columnist


You’ve probably replayed this clip plenty of times: Kris Bryant fields a ground ball, throws to first base, falls to his knees and rejoices in one fluid motion as he initiates the last out to secure a World Series victory. He’s giggling the whole time. Cue the waterworks.

After blowing their lead, the Chicago Cubs almost saw their chance of making history slip away Wednesday night. That was until the rain delay.

With just 17 minutes to get the team back on its feet, Jason Heyward led the locker room speech before the game went into extra innings. Given his performance at the plate all season, he seemed to be an unlikely player to rally the team to victory. But with his emotional speech, Heyward proved just how important vulnerability is.

“I just wanted them to … know how proud of them I was and that I loved them. That I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” said Heyward.

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    In most situations, exhibiting this kind of vulnerability is thought of as a weakness. A group of grown men huddled in a small room professing their emotions would give Ron Swanson a heart attack.

    In many sports, the only emotion you’ll see from players is anger. In fact, a study published in “Gender, Work and Organization” found that “male-dominated, higher status jobs are characterized by masculine qualities … including a masculine emotional style,” typically anger or frustration.

    But real change happens when you let your guard down. Many times, people hide their emotions in fear of appearing weak. The emotions turn into stress, which is then exhibited as anger, which quickly escalates to violence.

    Crying or releasing emotion is productive, healthy and totally normal, according to psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff.

    “Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration,” said Orloff.

    We can all learn something from Heyward’s emotional speech during arguably the most stressful game the Cubs will ever play.

    No matter what our goal, reaching it can be a frustrating and difficult process.

    We may never experience the stress of being down 3-1 in the World Series, but Heyward’s ability to collectively gather his team’s emotions and make the best of high tensions can translate into our everyday lives.

    Heyward’s speech also demonstrates a part of sports that can be controversial.

    “I just wanted them to remember how good they were,” he said. “How good we are.” He reminded the Cubs why they are the best team in baseball.

    Some may call them cocky or arrogant, but being aware of your own abilities is hardly a crime.

    In this society, we are expected to be humble, to downplay our strengths. If we take pride in our work, we do so at the risk of sounding presumptuous. We don’t want people to think that we think we’re better than anybody else, so we keep quiet instead.

    But reminding yourself that you’re good at what you do — maybe even the best — is not harmful. Heyward was not shy about reminding his teammates of their skills, and it didn’t go to anybody’s head.

    The Cubs demonstrated the line between LeBron James-type hubris and a reasonable recognition of exceptional abilities; not only self-confidence, but a self-awareness that is essential in all aspects of life.

    For college students in classes where our scores, grades and abilities are constantly weighed against those of our peers, it’s hard to keep this mindset, especially knowing that the competition doesn’t end when we’re handed our diplomas.

    But the Cubs, a team whose abilities are boiled down to numbers, scores, averages, etc., demonstrated the importance of not losing sight of their strengths, even while playing a sport where randomness can trump ability.

    On top of that, the odds were against them for 108 years. These players joined a team that was expected to lose time and time again, and they prevailed — we can learn a thing or two from them.

    Isabella is a sophomore in ACES.

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