So, you might have heard that Colorado Rockies first base coach Glenallen Hill has taken to wearing a helmet as he performs his on-field duties. In the wake of base coach Mike Coolabaugh’s death, this seems like an extremely sensible precaution to take. So why is Hill’s the only name I see in the headlines?
Because athletes are obsessed with cool and the status quo.
Even if the granny-style free throw shot were 100% effective, 100% of NBA stars would refuse to use it. Because even these world-famous Alpha dogs really, really care what people think of them.
Even retired athletes like Glenallen, who have long since left their playing days behind, are terrified of looking “goofy” in front of their peers. Rare is the person, athlete or not, who reaches the plane of self-actualization that allows him or her to put appearances aside and focus directly on right and wrong. I don’t know if Glenallen is there, or if he’s just scared, but kudos to Coach Hill for being man enough to step out of the mainstream and do the right thing for himself, and for the future of the game.
Is the helmet going to mush down his hair? Yes. Will he look a bit comical during the 99.99999999% of plays where the ball comes nowhere near hitting him? Yes. And Hill admits in an ESPN.com interview that he wavered until his friend’s accident convinced him to think beyond his ego:
“I had thought about it but didn’t want to put it into play,” Hill said. “Then, I heard about Mike and it brought a lot of emotions, for his family, his children, safety, how many close calls I’ve had. It just makes sense.”
Hill echoed a sentiment expressed by many players, coaches and managers around the league who said their greater concern was for the fans, especially kids, who sit so close to the action.
Obviously we need to protect fans, too. Will it kind of suck that your expensive seats along the foul lines have a little netting in front of them? Yeah, for a while. But the human eye is an amazing thing. After an inning or so of watching the action, your brain will cease to register the twine and you’ll just be watching a great game – free from the fear of having your brains bashed in by an errant ball or bat.
Stagecoach wheels spin backward, film frames present fluid motion, and there is no net, Neo.
So if you’re heading out to Coors, or if the Rockies are coming to your town, spare a kind thought for the man who’s chatting with Troy Tulowitzki after he reaches first base. He’s a pioneer. Here’s hoping some more hardheads follow his lead.
Helmet tip to The Feed, writing at Epic Carnival.