Creative Commons License photo credit: kidsire

I watched the Home Run Derby this evening. For non-baseball fans, it is part of the yearly All-Star Game festivities, where a selection of players try to hit as many home runs as they can.

Robinson Cano, the second baseman for the New York Yankees, was the captain of the American League team this year, having won the competition last year. He put on a great show, with his dad pitching to him.

The All-Star Game is being held in Kansas City this year and, leading up to the Home Run Derby, Cano had said that he would like to see a Kansas City Royals player make the 4 man American League team. The Yankees and the Royals, are both in the American League. Not that he would pick a Royal, just that he would like to.

Unfortunately, though, no Royals player really separated himself. The top contender, Billy Butler, has collected 16 home runs, putting himself in a tie for 16th place, and has never hit more than 21 in a season. Cano picked Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo and Prince Fielder to join him. Bautista leads the American League in home runs, while Trumbo and Cano have 22 and 20, respectively. Fielder has 15, one less than Butler, but since becoming a full time player, has never had less than 28 in a season, once reaching 50. Fielder ending up winning the competition.

Nonetheless, the home town crowd was not pleased. And that is totally fine. But, it was weird this evening to watch as the crowd not only booed Cano, but loudly cheered each time he failed to hit a home run. If it had been a few times, I wouldn’t be writing right now. But, the crowd did it each and every time for 10 outs. This wasn’t even a game, it was a frivolous competition. And yet, the crowd – Kansas City on a national stage – was relentlessly cruel to a guy who, honestly, has never done anything wrong – on or off the field.

I’ve never heard Cano say a mean word, he seems like a happy, fun loving, respectful guy. And, perhaps as striking as anything else, it was a father and son moment – his dad once again throwing the pitches to him. It is a dream come true for many men, for a man who deserves it and a story we should root for. Last year, when he won, Cano said that it didn’t matter, as long as his dad was pitching to him. How can you beat that?

But, the crowd was rooting for him to fail. Not just a couple of jokers, but a lot of people. It wasn’t good natured, either. Good nature would dictate that it would die out as he struggled – but, it only strengthened. It felt strange and it made my stomach turn, as someone who loves the game. I felt really bad for Cano. He handed it with dignity. But, this incident reminded me of something that I do within my communities.

The guidelines on my community regarding respect, don’t just apply to the people who hold an account on my forums. They apply to the treatment of everyone. No matter who they are.

Every person is just that – a person. It doesn’t matter how much money they have, how much larger than life they seem, how big of a celebrity they are. They are just a person. I’ve met many celebrities and I have had the opportunity to work with some people that you might consider to be a “celebrity.” I can safely tell you: they are just people. They have the same hopes, dreams, strengths and faults that you have. They have feelings just like you do.

Some will say “they signed on for a life in the public eye, so they can take it.” I think that feeling – those sentiments – are how we truly lose our our humanity. When we honestly convince ourselves that another person is somehow less human than we are. That’s a sad mindset.

So, on my forums, I don’t allow people to treat a celebrity (or anyone) different from how they’d treat their fellow member. I don’t believe in that double standard. If you can say it about a “celebrity,” another member should be able to say it about you. And if it is inappropriate on our community for you to speak about another member like that, it is inappropriate for you to speak about a non-member like that.

Let’s not forget that the person you are speaking about may one day become a member of your community. Furthermore, one of the reasons why some view forums and niche communities as hostile is because of how they treat supposed “outsiders.”

What you say about someone when they aren’t watching says a lot about you – and it says a lot about your community.