Sharpie and The Players’ Tribune have partnered to create a series around Uncap the Possibilities, which shows how a Sharpie gives people the power to unleash their imaginations — and to express how they’d like the world to be. Here, Aaron Judge explains why he’s joining the #ICANHELP campaign to help “delete” negativity online.
For those of you who don’t know my story, my parents adopted me the day after I was born. When I was about 10 years old, I started to realize that I didn’t look anything like my parents. So one day, I just straight up asked them, “What’s up? What’s going on here?”
They told me that I had been adopted.
I was like, “O.K.”
Seriously. That’s what happened. It wasn’t a big deal at all. I asked, they told me. And then I was like, “O.K. Can I go out and play now?”
My mom, Patty, was the only mom I had ever known, and my dad, Wayne, was the only dad I had ever known.
I was perfectly happy with that.
I guess I just knew early on how blessed I was. I always say that some kids grow in their mom’s stomach, but I grew in my mom’s heart. She and my dad have been incredible, and I honestly feel that because I got the parents I did, I hit the jackpot.
My parents are retired now, but when I was growing up they were both physical education teachers. They taught me a lot about how to be respectful and how to treat other people, and I could see it in the way they interacted with their students.
As you can imagine, a lot of arguments and fights tend to break out in gym classes. Kids are out on the basketball court or volleyball court or whatever, being competitive, and things can get out of hand sometimes. Kids will be arguing about a foul call, or whether or not a ball was out of bounds.
Or worse, maybe a kid gets picked on for not being as good as the others.
All these types of situations have a tendency to escalate pretty quickly.
But not in my parents’ classes.
When an argument or fight would break out during one of their classes, they would step in and diffuse the situation immediately — partly because it was their job, but also because that’s just the kind of people they are. And they raised me to be the same way. They’ve always stood for the right things, and they never stayed on the sidelines when somebody was getting picked on, or when people would be trying to start something.
Having that kind of example was a big thing for me. My parents didn’t just tell me how to treat people, they showed me — especially when it came to teachers and other kids. They led by example.
I saw a lot of bullying and fighting and negativity in school when I was growing up, as I’m sure most kids my age did. But now it’s even crazier, with the way social media has blown up. The Internet has given us greater access to just about everything in the world.
I have two young cousins who are eight and 11, and they’re just about to be getting into the social media world, if they haven’t already. I also meet a lot of different kids at different ballparks all over the U.S., and I hear about the kind of negativity they face online.
And from what I’ve seen myself, there’s far more negativity online than positivity.
So just like my parents would when an argument would break out in one of their classes, or when they’d see somebody picking on another kid, or when they’d hear someone being negative … I’m stepping in.
There’s no handbook for how we should conduct ourselves online. It’s kind of a free-for-all. That’s why I’m teaming up with #ICANHELP — an educational program that empowers students and teachers by giving them a plan to stop negativity when they see it.
I think it’s difficult for kids to stand up and say something when they see negativity in the classroom or on social media because it’s easier to sit back and think, It’s none of my business. It’s easier to stay on the sidelines and not get involved.
And that’s the thing: When negative behavior goes unchecked, it can easily get out of control, because negativity and hate are contagious.
But so are positivity, kindness and courage.
And if I can help inspire kids and give them the courage to spread positivity, I think we can stop the negativity and change the narrative.
I want to leave an impact on this world that’s greater than just what I do on the baseball field. I’m blessed to have the best parents in the world, and I think the best way that I can repay them is by taking the lessons they taught me — the things that made me the man I am today — and pass them on.
I can help.
I will help.
And I hope that one day we can live in a world with a little less negativity — especially online — and I can look back on my life and know that I did help.