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 A Damn Shame!!

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Artie60438

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PostSubject: A Damn Shame!!   2/11/2015, 1:54 pm

Don't sugarcoat it: Jackie Robinson West is not the champion
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If you care at all about the players on the Jackie Robinson West Little League team, don’t call them champions.

They aren’t. Today’s announcement by Little League International that the team has been stripped of its U.S. title and all its wins from the 2014 Little League World Series tournament is all the proof you need.

These are not champions. To say otherwise is a disservice to these kids, and they’ve already been handed a disservice big enough to last a lifetime.

So don’t say, “It’s OK, kids, you’re still champions in our eyes.” Don’t say, “We don’t care, you guys still won it all.”

Tell them the truth, and don’t sugarcoat a bit of it.

Tell them they’re not champions because, according to a lengthy Little League International investigation, the adults that the young players trusted to lead them to a title “knowingly violated Little League International rules and regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s boundaries.”

Tell them that the president of Little League International, Stephen Keener, said in a statement: “This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.”

Tell them the investigation found that “Jackie Robinson West Little League knowingly expanded its boundaries to include territory that belonged to other leagues in the district without approval from the other leagues or the Little League International Charter Committee," as stated in Little League’s Official Regulations and Playing Rules. Little League International also found that "Jackie Robinson West Little League used a falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament, and that Jackie Robinson West Little League officials met with other leagues in Illinois District 4 to try to get the territory they wrongfully claimed was theirs for their 2014 tournament.”


Tell them every detail and drive home to them that their manager — the now-suspended Darold Butler — and other adults cheated. They didn’t bend the rules. They didn’t fudge a few things. They cheated, and it doesn’t matter that the players were innocent, as I’m sure they were.

You don’t cheat and win. The wide-eyed, grinning little guys this city and the rest of the country fell in love with late last summer deserve to know the truth. They deserve to know that all the amazing things they went through — the wins, the parade from the South Side to downtown, the trip to the White House — are now tainted thanks to the unconscionable actions of grown-up morons.

There’s a sickness in youth sports in America, lurking just under the surface. It’s a pathetic need among some adults to live vicariously through the success of children, and that need gets fed no matter the cost.

Grown men and women cheat. They bend the rules. They play only the best players. They scream. They curse.

It’s a minority of coaches, no doubt, but a big enough minority to make youth sports, at times, both embarrassing and insufferable. This is one of those times.

I feel heartbroken for the Jackie Robinson West players. They fought and scrapped and earned that championship, not knowing the whole time the game was rigged. The players didn’t cheat, but they go down with the cheaters nonetheless.

Chicagoans, naturally, admired these kids for their toughness. So let’s not treat them like they’re not tough enough to handle the truth.

You’re not champions, guys. You played great, but you’re not champions.

But if you take from this the knowledge that nobody wins by cheating, if you remember this rotten feeling for the rest of your lives and dedicate yourselves to playing the game right, or coaching the game right, or encouraging other kids to play the game right, then you’ll wind up with something far greater than a championship.

You’ll wind up with integrity. And nothing beats that.

rhuppke@tribpub.com
In feel sorry not only for the kids on JRW but also the kids in the Philadelphia and Las Vegas teams who were cheated and should now play for the real title. All these kids should be proud of their efforts.

A damn shame that adults who know better had to resort to cheating.
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