Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of the U.S. Little League Championship that they worked so hard to earn at the Little League World Series last year.
Someone out there just doesn’t want Jackie Robinson West to be great. ESPN Little League International is now taking away the Chicago team’s hard-won victory on a geographical technicality. The team was retroactively disqualified from the competition because a handful of the players live outside of the eligible district for the team. This violated league rule that requires teams to only use players from within their area.
LLI isn’t just requiring the team to give up the U.S. Championship and the Great Lakes Regional titles they won during the Little League World Series this past summer, but there have been serious consequences for the team’s leadership. Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler has been suspended from activity within the league; the administrator for Illinois District 4, Michael Kelly, has also been removed from his position.
It’s unclear how this information was discovered or who may have tipped Little League International off to it. The team’s management has been accused of using a fake boundary map and recruiting players from other teams outside of their district to create a powerful roster.
Officials from the league claim that they are sorry to have to punish the kids because of what the adults behind their team did, but they are standing by their decision. “Quite honestly, we had to do this,” LLI president and CEO Stephen D. Keener told ESPN. “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,” Stephen said.
The league president was also very careful to make it clear that neither he nor his colleagues were blaming the kids directly for what they’ve found out. “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,” Stephan stated. “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.”
The U.S. Championship has now been handed to Mountainridge Little League from Las Vegas. Despite this disappointing development, President Barack Obama said he’s still very proud of the Chicago players despite the “dirty dealings” of the adults associated with their team.
SMH: Jackie Robinson West Stripped of Little League World Series Title was originally published on hellobeautiful.com