Your Personal Bat Flip

For as long as I can remember, the reception has always been mixed when it came to personal or team celebrations in any sporting competition at any level. Celebration and in some cases, overt jubilation often takes place when an individual or a team overcomes competition or adversity in the arena of play. There’s nothing complex about one’s expression of emotion whenever this happens. Yet despite this natural reaction, so many people, especially those that hold dearly to the traditions of the game are so much against it. Such individuals, for example, see the “bat flip” in baseball as a form of disrespect to the tenets of the sport and an assault to the spirit of sportsmanship. The “problem” with the bat flip isn’t necessarily involved with the act of the celebration itself but rather how the celebration is perceived. To the winner (and their respective fans), the act is apt, given the emotion invested in the said competition. The losing side on the other hand, without a doubt, thinks it has no place in the game. It is all about perception.

The “bat flip heard around the world” now infamously owns its own Wikipedia page. There is definitely no shortage of coverage and dare I say, an over-analysis of what Blue Jay right-fielder Jose Bautista did in last year’s American League Division Series. Unfortunately, such act was not forgotten by the members of the Texas Rangers. This past weekend, they got their 3 pounds of flesh for Mr. Bautista’s supposed transgression from 7 months ago. Beyond this, I’d like to think that the score has been settled (I hope).

This post isn’t yet another pointless over-analysis of the bat-flip, but I certainly look at the act and how we do it every day and how that is a very good thing for everyone.

Regardless of what one does, we all have our own personal bat flips. As a teacher, I watch my colleagues flip their bats every day. Some do extracurriculars, coach, mentor and yes, teach their asses off. I’m not placing teachers in a moral spectrum here as I argue that everyone, from all walks of life, do this (just perhaps in a not-so-obvious manner) on a daily basis.

Our personal bat flips come in many shapes and sizes. There will be years when they come few and far in between (no, bat flips doesn’t happen when one gets a raise or a promotion). Bat flips happen when you give something away for free in an endeavour where it is crazy to give something away for free. A bat flip is something you do when you passionately believe in something then apply it without expected returns. They are bat flips because it is against the grain of tradition and largely, the status quo. I’m not romanticizing our personal bat flips here. I’m just saying it as how it is.

Bat flips happen when you give something away for free in an endeavour where it is crazy to give something away for free.

Given that perception is critical here, the bat flip comes with a price. Much like Jose Bautista, he found out in an inning how much his bat flip cost. In my experience as an educator, flipping one’s bat is a risky endeavour. Often times, you will rub people the wrong way. Some of your colleagues will accuse you of “showing them up” while administrators may view you as uncooperative, or at best, a “loose cannon” looking for attention. It can cause tremendous amounts of strain and stress and it is something that may not be for everyone.

The question you only have to ask is why. What is your understanding of your own bat-flipping? Why are you flipping your bat and who are you flipping it for? Are you flipping your bat because you’re a change agent? Or are you simply doing it for attention (and in this day and age, likes and follows)? The latter is easy to figure out while the former is decidedly more complex.

I have seen many educators flip their own bats for the right reasons but there are those that are also afraid of doing so. I can’t blame them as there are many risks involved. In the end however, people’s perceptions are out of our control. If perception is the main stumbling block for not doing so, but the reason(s) are right (in your heart and mind), then flip your damn bat every day if need be. As educators, your students and those around you seeking the courage to flip their own bats will appreciate it.

Want to know who my all-time, favourite bat flipper is? It is none other than Martin Luther King Jr. His phrase defines what bat-flipping truly means to me.

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”