Chicago has seen it’s fair share of negative media coverage of the city’s violence, to very positive press on campaigns done by influential people such as #SAVECHICAGO by Chance The Rapper, and the idea of Barack Obama’s presidential library being built-in the South Side of Chicago. But, nothing beat the U.S. Little League Championship of Jackie Robinson West, the team out of Chicago.
Between Mo’ne Davis and the championship team from Chicago, and even getting honored at the White House, their championship was stripped from them as punishment for a violation of Little League rules about the use of players in a geographic area. Jackie Robinson West expanded or changed their map, as team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to pick new players in efforts to build an unstoppable team.
As a result, the team has been stripped of its Great Lakes Regionals and Championship titles. Mountain Ridge Little League team from Las Vegas is now the winner. Jackie Robinson’s 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.
“Quite honestly, we had to do this,” Little League International president and CEO Stephen D. Keener told ESPN on Wednesday. “We had no choice. We had to maintain the integrity of the Little League program. … As painful as this is, it’s a necessary outcome from what we finally have been able to confirm.
controversy is not new to Little League, as the last major issue was in 2002 when league officials investigated a team from Harlem, which advanced to the Little League World Series, for claims that they used players outside of their boundaries. The team proved residencies and were cleared.
The last time a title was taken away was in 1992 when the Zamboanga City Little League, Philippines, forfeited their World Series title after admitting to using eight players from outside the Zamboanga City league’s boundaries.
Keener later went on to say this about the decision. I think his words speak volumes to the weight of this story, and the disappointments to go along with it.
“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.”