Hard feelings: Chicago Little League scandal just plain wrong

02/17/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The run by the Jackie Robinson West team out of Chicago to the Little League national title was the feel good sports story of the summer. A team of inner city kids did the unexpected, defied the odds, and achieved what they weren't supposed to achieve. It united a city. To some point it united a nation. It even united races. But despite all of that unity, and feel good achievement, there's one problem. They violated the rules in doing so.
The sad part of it is that the kids who actually played the games had nothing to do with it. The blame goes to the local officials that were in charge of assembling the team. An investigation shows that Jackie Robinson West coaches and administrators falsified documents to Little League International regarding players who lived outside of the geographical boundaries for where the team could pool players from. This has resulted in the suspension of the team's coach and dismissal of the district administrator after it was determined that coaches and administrators falsified documents submitted to Little League International and that officials from nearby leagues decided to go along with it.
It has also resulted in a lot of people speaking up for why stripping this team of their title is wrong. Reverend Jesse Jackson has said the decision is harsher than it needs to be. Reverend Michael Pfleger has raised questions about race being the reason for the decision. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has contacted Little League International officials to lobby for the team to be able to keep their championship. Other politicians and lawyers have stepped up on the teams behalf.

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But it doesn't matter who says what, because Jackie Robinson West violated the rules. Some have said the rules are too strict. That geographical districting isn't enforced this stringently when it comes to politicians and elections in Chicago. But the fact of the matter is their are rules in place that clearly define geographical boundaries. And the officials from the Jackie Robinson West team violated those rules. It's a shame that the kids that played in those gams and won on the field have to be punished for the wrong doings of the league officials. The kids did nothing wrong, they just played baseball. That's what little leaguers are supposed to do, just play baseball. But when the Little League World Series becomes a multi-million dollar venture for ESPN, kids just playing baseball doesn't seem to be possible anymore.
This isn't a matter of race, or bitter feelings from other little league associations, or too harsh of a punishment being enforced by the governing body of international little league baseball. The fact of the matter is the rules were broken by the coaches and administrators. Blame the adults involved here. They decided that doing things the dishonest way was OK. It's a shame those kids have to be stripped of their title, but hopefully the lesson they learn from this sticks with them for life.
Cheaters never win.

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