I’m going to keep this short but it seems that the adults behind the Jackie Robinson baseball team did in fact cheat to create a possible superteam in order to get in, and win, the American section of the Little League World Series. This result means that in a sport about the kids, the adults cheated to get ahead and in the process ended up winning. Yet again the adults have ruined a great, heartwarming story and turned it into another scandal of cheating. I wrote about this topic yesterday and this article is a follow-up explaining why and how the Jackie Robinson team was stripped of their title.
Also, I know some of you were wondering how exactly the Jackie Robinson team cheated. Each district gets specific area limits to make a travel team for the LLWS, but the Jackie Robinson team expanded their boundaries, illegally, so that it interfered with other districts. The Jackie Robinson team then took players from the areas of their new boundary, taking them from competing teams. After bitter Chicago rival complained to Little League, action was taken against the Jackie Robinson team, which resulted in them losing their title.
Almost immediately after the ruling, the adults in the Chicago region who run the Little League program have all since been suspended. From the coach of the Jackie Robinson squad, Darold Butler, to the head of Illinois District 4 Little League, Michael Kelly, which is the district the Jackie Robinson team is in. When stripping Jackie Robinson of their title, Little League gave it to the Las Vegas team even though the coach, Kristi Black, of that team said she didn’t need the title. Black said she only wanted the Jackie Robinson boys to be stripped of the American title, not to get the title themselves; “For us, it’s not about getting the title. . . . It’s about preserving the integrity of the Little League World Series. I spoke with a couple of our kids this morning, and they’re excited, but they feel terrible for the kids on Chicago team. Our kids have moved on. They’re just of the mind that when rules are broken, that’s not acceptable.”
This is another instance of adults creating unnecessary problems for kids, when the kids didn’t do anything. In a statement released by Little League today they wanted to make it clear that it was a hard decision to make because of the kids it affected; “The real troubling part of this is that we feel horribly for the kids who are involved with this. Certainly, no one should cast any blame, any aspersions on the children who participated on this team. To the best of our knowledge, they had no knowledge that they were doing anything wrong. They were just kids out playing baseball, which is the way it should be. They were celebrated for that by many, many organizations, many people. What we’re most concerned about today is that it’s going to be hard on these kids. And that’s the part that breaks your heart.”
Even President Obama who welcomed the Jackie Robinson team into the White House said he blames the adults and their “dirty dealing” for being stripped of the title.
This is still hardly the biggest scandal in the LLWS. In 2001 an amazing pitcher named Danny Almonte led his Bronx team to victory with his pitching yet it turned out Danny was 14 at the time, two years over the age limit to play.
This would not have been a huge story without the adults who cheated so let this be a lesson that parents and adults involved with Little League should only cheer on their kids next time, not try to cheat for them.