One question my students have been spending some time with is "What is a my purpose?"
Sullivan proposes virtues—those good moral habits that constitute our character can help us discern an answer. As a high school ethics teacher, I take age appropriate steps toward these questions. With the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm in mind, I enter into their world, connect to their interests, reference their culture for a more lively and spirited question. Fortunately, I found one in the place and space I often do: the wide world of sports.
Right now my favorite podcast is ESPN Sports Daily, hosted by Mina Kimes. Shohei Ohtani was the subject of the March 5 episode. As reported on their website:
Shohei Ohtani is one of the Angels' biggest stars, who, at the peak of his game, excels as both a pitcher and batter. Last season, Ohtani was only able to contribute at the plate, as his recovery from Tommy John surgery kept him off the mound. Will the 2020 season see Ohtani participate in both phases of the game, and why is that so unique in MLB? ESPN's Alden Gonzalez traces Ohtani's career and explains what makes him an exceptional talent.Ohtani has been dubbed the most interesting player in baseball. I find who he is and what he does outside of MLB to be interesting too.
Standing 6'4" and weighing 210 lbs, Ohtani pitches with his right hand and bats left. Carrying the nickname "Sho Time," he hails from Ōshū, Iwate, in Northern Japan. He threw a 99 mph fastball in high school and was drafted from there by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters'. In December 2017 he signed with the Los Angeles Angels and had his MLB debut in 2018. Angels' fans anticipate his return to an active status and the impending start to the 2020 baseball season.
It has taken Ohtani some time to adjust to American culture and his new clubhouse. In the podcast, Gonzalez said,
He is a reserved guy, but gradually his teammates have come to know that he's a pretty funny guy, too. He can speak more English than he lets on and Spanish comes easier to him than English does. For example, there are times when he'll blurt out a Spanish cuss word. He's got this subtle humor and he's got some really good comedic timing.
The big thing that allowed him to fit in with his teammates was that game Clash Royale. It's a video game. He's AMAZING at Clash Royale. Teammates started to see some of his personality come out. He talks trash while beating his teammates at it. Sometimes he's playing the game and beating somebody while multi-tasking. Clash Royale became a tool for him to interact with his teammates more.When I heard this anecdote, I knew I could use it for the good. The next day, I returned to my lesson plan and asked my students: Wha is the purpose of video games? What is the purpose of a friend? Sometimes when I ask students to start writing, it takes more than a minute for the pen to hit the paper. Not this time!
I asked them if anyone had heard of Shohei Ohtani. I shared his story. They loved it. With their attention in mind, we returned to our philosophical conversation with vigor. Tell me the purpose of a friend. To support you. To be a person you can trust and rely upon. To help you be a better person. To care for you.... the list went on.
And don't forget "all things in moderation, even moderation."