A baseball player screwed up, but his apology can teach us all a big lesson.


Kevin Pillar screwed up. Here’s what he’s doing to fix it.

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A professional baseball player just demonstrated what a good, genuine apology should look like.

After striking out during Wednesday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar had some choice words for Braves’ pitcher Jason Motte, and things got heated. During the exchange, Pillar shouted a homophobic slur at Motte.

Pillar during an April game against the Boston Red Sox. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images.

It wasn’t a good look for Pillar, and he knew it. The next day, he offered an apology to both Motte and the larger LGBTQ community.

Emotions were clearly running pretty high, but the next day on Twitter, Pillar shared a heartfelt message of remorse:

“Last night, following my at-bat in the 7th inning, I used inappropriate language towards Braves pitcher Jason Motte. By doing so, I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports or anywhere in society today. I’m completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the fans, my teammates and the Blue Jays organization in this position. I have apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly, to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night. This is not who I am and will use this as an opportunity to better myself.”

There are three elements to an effective apology, and Pillar’s message is a great example we can all look to.

Because let’s be real: We all screw up, and there’s always an opportunity to grow from our own mistakes. The question is whether we want to. Here’s how to do it, according to experts.

Pillar during an October 2015 game against the Texas Rangers. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Christine Carter, a senior fellow at the University of California-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, outlines the three key components of effective apologies. Here’s how Pillar’s statement fits:

The first element of a good apology is an explanation of how you feel. In Pillar’s scenario, it’s when he said that he’s “completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible.”

The second element is an admission of mistake and its negative impact. Pillar does this when he states, “I used inappropriate language,” and adding, “By doing so, I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports or anywhere in society today.”

And finally, offer to make the situation right. Pillar accepted a two-game suspension without pay from the team, and his salary is being donated to charity. Additionally, he pledged to “use this as an opportunity to better [himself].” Now it’s up to him to make good on that promise.

Offering an effective, honest, and heartfelt apology doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be accepted, but it’s still the right thing to do.

There’s no virtue in a stubborn refusal to apologize for one’s shortcomings. It’s easy to dismiss people hurt by words or actions as simply being too sensitive. What’s harder, and what takes more guts, is owning up to mistakes and putting in the self-reflection needed to become a better and stronger person.

Pillar celebrates with teammates after a September 2015 win against the Baltimore Orioles. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

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