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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

  When most parents sign their sons and daughters up to play Little League sports, they want their kids to have fun, but they would also like them to learn a few things along the way. Things like being part of a team, being a good winner and a good loser, playing fair and by the rules. Sometimes the lessons are imparted and learned, sometimes delivered and ignored, and sometimes neither one seems to take place.
  Much attention has been placed recently on the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago. Last summer, the all African-American team won the National Little League Championship. However, evidence has come to light that the team may have broken some rules, and they were stripped of their title. The team is charged with recruiting players from outside the district where the team is allowed to recruit players.
  As some might expect, allegations of racism have been quick to follow, and since Al Sharpton is no doubt exhausted from stirring up racial tension in Ferguson Missouri and tax evasion, he has handed this one off to Jesse Jackson. Jackson, as he has done to so many other entities, is using the threat of legal action against Little League International if they do not comply with his own racist and bullying demands.
  A lot can be said about what the parents and coaches may or may not have done. Darold Butler, the team's Manager has been suspended, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly has been removed from his position. But the most important question has to be, what does this teach the kids?
  There is no doubt it is the kids who are hurt the most. They will go to school and suffer taunting and humiliation that only other kids can dish out, and it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. But what are they being taught about dealing with the consequences of one's actions? Are they being taught that you take your consequences, in this case, like men? Or are they being taught that the ends justifies the means, that cheating, if it in fact did happen, is only bad if you get caught, that if do cheat, get caught, and yell "racism", everyone will get scared and back off?
  What are the kids being taught about being perpetual victims? If you have to trot Jesse Jackson in to save the day, does that in itself say to the kids that whatever they do in life will not be seen as good enough unless some so-called black "leader" swoops in to see to it that it is deemed up to par?
  While Jesse Jackson huffs and puffs about racism and the lawyers pick apart every aspect of the rule book that, by all accounts, is very clear and strictly enforced, another question lingers. Should the boys have to endure the punishment having their championship vacated because of the stupidity of the adults around them? They appear to be the only ones doing the right thing in all of this, just working hard and playing their hearts out to win a championship. They have learned that lesson on their own.
  The obvious answer is no, they should not. But it may be one more cruel lesson they learn from this experience. If that should be the case, the best we can hope for is that they grow up to emulate the class, dignity, and integrity, of the man for whom their team is named.


  1. Maybe important here is whether the boys themselves knew that the team was cheating. Did the boys who were outside of this district know it was against the rules that they were on this team? Yes, the adults cheated and KNEW they cheated, but if the boys themselves also knew, it is important that they also suffer the punishment. It may be painful for them, but at this age and level of play, I find it hard to believe that they weren't aware of the rules. I hope they learn from this, despite the efforts of Jesse Jackson to ensure they don't.

  2. Jessie Jackson has NO room to judge! What does that tell you? This is an issue about race, not principle? Has the background of the new winning team been checked as well?