By Ellen Chlumecky
February 12, 2015
My hope in sports always drops a little when a team is suspended or stripped of a title because of the actions of a coach. Especially when the players might not have any idea of the wrong doing. This may or may not have been the case for the Jackie Robinson West team.
The Little League Baseball organization has stripped the U.S. championship title from Jackie Robinson West. They also suspended their coach and team manager for violating a rule that prohibited the use of players who live outside the geographic area that the team represents. The team must vacate wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament. In addition, Illinois District 4 administrator has been removed from his position.
The Little League Baseball organization found out that the team used a falsified boundary map. The team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to claim players to make the perfect team and obviously they succeeded.
The Little League International president/CEO Stephen D. Keener stated that it was only fair to make this decision. He made it clear that the league had to maintain the integrity of the program. While he felt he made the right decision at the end of the day, he stated that he did feel sympathy for the players on the team. He reiterated multiple times that it was a “heartbreaking decision,” considering the circumstances of the situation surrounding the team.
The Jackie Robinson West team were true underdogs and they worked their butts off to achieve this high honor. They showed true athleticism and great sportsmanship off the field. While I understand that an organization is not sound unless they follow the rules, it truly upsets me that they had to take the title away from these innocent kids.
Being from Chicago, if you saw the hype that this team brought to the city, you would defend these hardworking kids to no end. They worked hard just to have their title stripped from them for a decision that they had no control over. Keener even said that as far as he knew the players had no knowledge of what was going on.
So the bottom line question is: do the kids deserve the title or do you think this is just a part of life they need to learn about? My opinion is they deserve the title, no questions asked. They showed the world that they had what it takes to win the title. It’s not fair that their coach wrongfully cheated and they’re being punished for it. I understand that organizations need to follow rules, but to what extent in that it’s affecting young players.