The Jackie Robinson West Little League team based out of Chicago made headlines in 2014 as the first ever all-African-American team to win the Little League World Championship. Now they’ve found themselves amid scandal, as they’re being forced to vacate wins including the United States Little Championships and the Great Lakes Regionals. The Jackie Robinson West team has been stripped of their titles and wins after violating “a rule prohibiting the use of players who live outside the geographic area that the team represents” according to ESPN.
If this story sounds familiar it’s because this is the EXACT rule Gordon Bombay threatened ‘The Hawks’ with in Disney’s ‘The Mighty Ducks’, using the rule to secure Adam Banks on Bombay’s team ‘The Ducks’ and riding Adam’s blue-blooded hockey prowess to a District 5 Championship.
As a Little League coach you simply HAVE to know that you were breaking the rules in doing this, but that’s besides the point. The point is that an entire team of champions is learning a tough lesson due to the mistakes of a handful of people, and that blows.
Little League Baseball has stripped the U.S. championship from the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West team and has suspended the coach for violating a rule prohibiting the use of players who live outside the geographic area that the team represents, it was announced Wednesday.
The Jackie Robinson West team, the first all-African-American team to win the championship, must vacate wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament — including its Great Lakes Regional and United States championships.
The team’s manager, Darold Butler, has been suspended from Little League activity, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position.
The organization found that the Jackie Robinson team used a falsified boundary map, and that team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to claim players and build what amounts to a superteam.
As a result, the United States championship has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.
“For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses,” Little League International CEO Stephen D. 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.
I feel the need to reiterate that these kids are not at fault, it’s the parents and/or coaches who knowingly broke the rules that caused this outcome. These kids are goddamn CHAMPIONS and nobody can take that away from them.
UPDATE: It appears ESPN has gone back on their ‘first all-African-American team to win the championship’ reporting and have stricken it from their article without any mention of it previously being in there.
As one Twitter user has pointed out to me a team from Indiana did it in the 70’s and another from Tampa in the 80’s. Solid work from ESPN to lead their article with that and then remove the mention without any clarification.
As ESPN has still yet to acknowledge their mysterious editing and complete lack of acknowledgment of how they tried to play this up as a racial issue, one Twitter use researched the two previous all-African-American teams to previously win it all:
For more on this story you can head on over to ESPN by clicking HERE.