In light of tragedy, Congress can learn a thing or two from Little League

NEW YORK -- This week, some people tried to turn the baseball shooting into a political football, blaming one party or the other for the violence.

Normally, you'd expect Congress to join in the mudslinging -- but they threw us a curveball at Thursday night's game with the way they greeted each other, the way they prayed together at second base.

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Lawmakers pray before the Congressional Baseball Game

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Tragedy can have that effect on people. But, you know, baseball helps too. It's hard not be a good sport when you're playing America's pastime.

In fact, I would argue that everything Congress needs to know about fixing our political acrimony, they already learned in Little League.

In Little League they teach you that losers don't whine, winners don't gloat and you don't question a call based on the umpire's heritage.

These things are no-brainers to young minds, but for some reason, we forget those life lessons in our later innings.

So why bother even teaching kids good sportsmanship if we're just going to cast it aside as adults?  And why celebrate that baseball game if the mutual respect we witnessed was a mirage that will fade as soon as the infield dust settles? 

That's my fear -- that Monday we'll be right back where we were. Unless we try something new. Or in this case, something old.

The postgame handshake is the bedrock of Little League. Kids do it after every game all the way through college. It stops in the pros, but for no good reason.

So here's my idea: After every session of Congress, after every State of the Union, both parties should line up, as they did Thursday night, just to say "good job," "thanks for being here."

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Players walk through the handshake line after a Little league game

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You don't have to change your positions. You don't even have to compromise. All you have to do is reach across the aisle with an open hand and show some civility. We like what we saw Thursday night. We'd like to see more.

So Congress, next time the gavel lands, please consider walking over to thank your so-called adversaries for serving the country you all so love. Just because you're in the big leagues doesn't mean you can't act like a Little Leaguer.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.