A Question of Fairness or Racism? Chicago Little League Stripped Of Title Due To Cheating

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 9.24.24 AMChicago-based Jackie Robinson West Little League team was riding a crest of success this month, including a photo op with President Barack Obama, when it came crashing down in a very messy cheating scandal. The team was accused of effectively stacking the team with ringers from outside of their district — a serious infraction for such teams. The first all-African-American team to win the U.S. championship was stripped of its honor in favor of Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas. In the meantime, there is a suggestion from at least one Chicago leader that the action against the team is racist.

After the championship, the league officials were told of the allegations for the first time despite the fact that the team managers were aware of the violations. Team manager, Darold Butler, has been suspended from Little League activity and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position. The League found that the team used a falsified boundary map and that there was a conscious effort to stack the team with top ineligible players. No Bill Belichick is not the part-time coach.

Jackie Robinson West lost to Seoul, South Korea after beating Las Vegas 7-5 in the U.S. title game.

National league officials were reportedly shocked when, in January, local officials admitted that they knew of the violations. The rules are quite clear. Indeed, in 1992, a title was stripped from a team from Zamboanga, Philippines Zamboanga used several players that lived outside its district or were over-age. Likewise, in 2001, a third-place team from the Bronx, N.Y., was stripped for using ineligible players though that was due to an age disqualification.

These types of violations always raise an interesting question of liability. The actions of these officials, rather than the players, are at issue. Their knowing violation of the rules not only led to the heartbreaking stripping of these kids of their title, but make the real winner in Las Vegas feel like they are merely default victors. It also negated past expensive trips and games where hundreds of players and parents worked for championship titles. The league itself has a defense in relying on the good-faith of local officials. However, the local officials cost the league and various families dearly in their effort to rig the competition. Those officials in some ways got off lightly in simple suspensions as opposed to facing the financial and emotional costs of the violations.

In the meantime, Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition has denounced the action as unduly harsh. It is unclear how Jackson believes the team should be allowed to remain champions after winning with ineligible players. How is that far to the Las Vegas team and other teams?

Yet, Rev. Michael Pfleger takes it further in stating “I can’t help but question whether the same thing would have been done with another team from another place — another race.” The answer appears to be yes. The league has taken such action in the past with non-African American teams.

Source: ESPN

67 thoughts on “A Question of Fairness or Racism? Chicago Little League Stripped Of Title Due To Cheating”

  1. Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West coach must surely be deemed RACIST for not including a single white player “ringer” from outside JRW’s geographic district when he knowingly chose to violate the rules. Sad day for the kids, but surely some of them, or their parents, knew of the wrongdoing, or should have.

  2. Young people have this game they play where anything someone says a person yells, “THAT’S RACIST.” Kids get it. White Guilt adults are clueless and Racial Pimps like Jackson play them like cheap guitars. They have no idea just how much NORMAL black people, the vast majority of blacks, detest the likes of Jackson and Sharpton. If you want a good laugh, bring up their names in a blue collar, black bar. Oh wait, White Guilt people have never been in one.

  3. Here’s another example. Little kids competing at horse shows are absolutely adorable. But if their horse or pony fails a drug test because their parents wanted to win at any cost, that adorable little girl would lose her blue ribbon.

    It would not be the show’s fault; it would be her parents’ fault.

    We all know about the “monster parents” at kids sporting events. They fight with umpires, belittle their kids, don’t have good team spirit, or they cheat. It is important that their behavior is punished, in front of the players, to send the kids the right message. One of the benefits of playing team sports is learning sportsmanship and building character. It is important we don’t lose sight of that most important benefit in how we proceed.

    Any parent who is going on the news, claiming it is racist to make her child follow the rules, is clearly not getting this message.

  4. I know people involved in the Little League. According to them this IS a big violation and completely undermines the integrity of the system and the penalty is absolutely inline with proper norm.

    I do not know much about the league but this has nothing to do with race and the same penalty would have happened to an all white team.

    The Little League apparently takes this stuff really serious to maintain an equal playing field for teams and to prevent coaches from using ringers.

  5. Jim, Check for a MSBL League in your area. This is a nationwide league run by a guy named Steve Sigler. He is the dad of Jamie Lynn Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano. Just a bit of trivia. I have two bulging cervical disks that will need surgery. I can’t throw and am not a good enough hitter to just DH. The motto of MSBL is, “Don’t go soft, play hardball.”

  6. Nick Spinelli – “Jim, Interestingly, there are still adult pickup pond hockey games w/ adults, not kids. My Colombian son is an avid pond hockey player. He’s 30 years old.”

    Nick, As an adult, it has always amazed me how many more hockey leagues there are than baseball leagues. Hell, even when I lived in CA I played a ton of hockey. Baseball requires less insurance, no special building and is the American pastime. I did find a hardball league here in Albany and I have played on it for the past 10 years. I share your hatred for softball and refuse to play what I call watered down baseball.

  7. Americans cheat? Surely you jest.

    We cheat in bicycling, MLB, wrestling, basketball, hockey, tennis, golf, FIFA, IOC, NFL.

    Our taxes, school testing, homework, term papers, expense reports, police reports, news reports, voting, campaign pledges, speed limits, marriage vows, chastity pledges, diets.

    1. I just self- graded on the issues you mentioned. I guess I am part of America’s moral decay. We have always had a group of cheaters in America but until recently it was not accepted by the norm. Anymore, I don’t know.

  8. Jim, Interestingly, there are still adult pickup pond hockey games w/ adults, not kids. My Colombian son is an avid pond hockey player. He’s 30 years old.

    1. Nick – is your son a citizen of the US? If so, he is no longer Colombian, I think. Although, for a while they allowed dual citizenship.

  9. Nick Spinelli – “Kids simply do not play pickup games unless it’s inner city kids and basketball. I LOVED baseball and played from the time I got up until dark during the summer. I organized kids, knocked on doors to get kids to come out. I made sure we had a ball, bat, etc. The skills that kids obtained playing pickup games were much more important than the athletic skills.”

    Nick, You just wrote exactly what I have told people about my pond hockey days. We had a whole league without any parents help. I even made a league cup.

    My one brother, who is 7 years older, after playing catch would throw the ball straight up in the air not let me back in the house until I caught it 3 times. We would also play endless amounts of “pig”. If it touched your glove and you dropped it, you got a letter. I once sent him into the path of a wheel barrel without warning him. These games were serious!

    My baseball career was doomed since in high school, I just wanted to have fun and I just couldn’t play the click/brown noser game that coaches wanted.

  10. Paul – you are right. If they allow this team to keep the win they got by cheating, this could send the wrong message to those kids. Already, their parents are getting on the news demanding that the rules should not apply to them. How is that going to affect those kids?

  11. Stop lowering the bar of expected behavior/consequences based on skin color. That is insulting to the black community, and all the players in the Little League.

  12. Are they trying to make the argument that the rules should not apply if the players are black? Or that it builds the kids’ character to allow them to keep a win they got because the adults involved cheated?

    This IS a teachable moment for them. If they feel distress, it is the fault of the cheating adults, not the League. What if the adults sabotaged the other teams so they had to forfeit? Would they get to keep the win then?

    The definition of fairness is that the rules apply equally to everyone. The League has enforced this rule in the past, and they should do so again. And then they should contact the kids directly and explain this is no reflection on them, but rather on the adults involved. This is a life lesson that they hopefully will not distort.

    1. Karen S – when college coaches cheat the program suffers, which means the players suffer. The kids would not have won without the illegal kids being on the team.

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