Jackie Robinson West | A Cautionary Tale
There’s an old saying that goes in team sports: Players win games, coaches lose them and refs ruin them. In a sense, that is what Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West is dealing with after their successful 2014 Little League World Series Championship has been stripped. After being discovered for recruiting ineligible players outside of township lines. The whistle-blower in this case, Mountain Ridge Little League, the de-facto US championship as it so happens. A couple days of passed since the ruling, and the internet is buzzing with conspiracy theories, motivations, and plenty of victim claims.
While the biggest casualty of this ruling is the kids, who played no part in the team’s organizing except for showing up to play, the media would have you believe there is more at stake. Almost on cue where injustice is declared in Chicago, Rev. Jesse Jackson makes a special appearance to deliver his time-tested strategy of injury due to racism. One of the JRW player’s mothers states “It is amazing to me that whenever African-Americans exceed the expectations, that there is always going to be fault.” This Us vs. Them argument never creates solutions, and now, instead of it being about how well these young boys played and represented their country, we are stuck with the same dialogue that lacks a mature or responsible dialogue.
There is no worse moment in sports when it stops being about the game on the field. There was wrongdoing in the case of JRW; the coaches and league officials are not denying this and may never be apart of a meaningful game again. They weighed their options and made the choice. Fortunately, these kids will step onto the baseball diamond again and prove that they are still champions, for the the court of public opinion still holds sway in matters such as these. What makes the LLWS so great is the practice of instilling the core values of hard work and resilience; most of today’s super athletes could probably learn from these kids who have no greater joy then to be playing for their team and being the best, in that order.
Apologies. Rant over