I don’t know much about baseball. When you spend summers on the farm, swimming and baseball are two things you miss out on. With hand-eye coordination so poor that I am lucky to hit my mouth with a spoon, it’s not like the world missed out on another George Brett. In recent years though, I have become a bandwagon Royals fan. As a long-suffering Chiefs fan, true Royals fans have all of my respect and support as they celebrate a World Series Victory. (But really folks, it’s not like we won a Super Bowl.)
As a recent bandwagon fan, I know very little about the sport. What I know I learned from the Movies: Major League, Bull Durham, and Moneyball. Moneyball taught me that baseball has become all about the numbers. Teams hire statisticians who track every aspect of a player’s career and predict potential value. Friends who follow the sport tell me that every team plays this way now.
So when I heard the baseball talking heads pontificating about the Royals, I found one statement fascinating. “Ned Yost says championships are won in the clubhouse.” These experts talk about how Ned Yost’s focus is on building a team of players who have the right personality, who fit in with each other, who get along, put team above self, work hard, sacrifice, and support each other. Some people in education call these “soft skills.”
I couldn’t help but think about Commissioner Watson’s Magical Mystery Tour, during which 70-80 percent of Kansans reported that soft skills are what is important to a successful adult. Kansans are ready to move beyond Moneyball schools that focus on statistics, and on to World Champions, where statistics are just indicators of potential, and success is measured by what they do on the field of real life.
This will be a tough transition. Statistics are easy, numbers are hard and fast, validity and reliability computed, and performance reduced to a score; but that isn’t good enough to win anymore. Kansas schools must go beyond the numbers and give kids the skills they need to contribute in the clubhouse.