Earlier this week the United States Little League World Series champions were stripped of their title. The Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago was the first all black team to represent the United States in the World Series. The teams title was taken because they accepted players from outside their geographical boundary.
According to Dave Zirin, the team most likely had to stretch its borders because of the lack of baseball in Chicago’s inner city. He says that the city lacks the funds to build baseball diamonds and the places where they used to be have been turned into condos and prime areas of real estate.
The sad thing about this situation is that the kids who played on the team are suffering because of adults who were willing to do anything to see them win. These kids were not using illegal bats or playing with kids who lied about their ages. These players were brought in from the suburbs to play with this team.
The story broke and was instantly all over social media. The hashtag #JRW began trending as sports reporters began the discussion about what had happened.
The issue here Is that adults have began to professionalize youth sports. They won’t accept their kids not winning. Youth baseball is meant for development and recreation. In some cases the parents of these kids will stop at nothing to ensure that their child is the best. These parents don’t notice that they are harming their children. By cheating they are showing their children that this is acceptable in order to get ahead.
In this situation, I am unsure if stripping the team of the title was a necessary sanction. As I said before, the team was not using illegal equipment or lying about the age of their payers to gain an unfair advantage. Most likely, the kids on the team had no idea that they were breaking any rules. These kids worked hard to make it all the way. I feel those who should be punished are the parents and coaches who allowed these rules to be broken. They should be fined or barred from competition for a few years. But now these kids are going to believe that they did something wrong when really it was the adults who they trusted.