Baseball’s diamonds of youthful joy

For the first time in a tournament dating back to 1947, Cubans are playing in the Little League World Series in the United States. Their participation marks a triumph of the persistent human desire to forge healing connections across geopolitical divides.

“Sports and the arts can offer an alternative, a better example of relations between two countries,” said Daniel Montero, a Cuban filmmaker and co-director of a short documentary on the young players. After decades of enmity between Washington and Havana and more recent seesaw attempts at reconciliation, he told the journalism website Latino Rebels, “it just feels good to see an alternative to that.”

Like science or music, sports can coax gestures of friendship and trust from hardened foes. Grassroots soccer programs nurtured new bonds of community in war-torn countries like Liberia and the republics of the former Yugoslavia. After apartheid, South Africa found a new basis for racial harmony in a shared national passion for rugby. Cricket offers one of the few consistent avenues for diplomacy between India and Pakistan.

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