“Cheaters” lose championship amid controversy

Little+did+this+team+know+that+all+of+their+hard+work+would+be+unjustly+taken+away+in+the+blink+of+an+eye

Little did this team know that all of their hard work would be unjustly taken away in the blink of an eye

In today’s world of sports where childhood heroes can instantly become disgraceful cheaters and strict punishments are increasingly reinforced, it’s especially painful to see innocent kids become a direct victim of the unlawful actions of others.

The Jackie Robinson West baseball team from the south side of Chicago was stripped of its 2014 United States baseball championship after it was determined that the coaches illegally recruited players from outside neighborhoods to play for the team, when rules state that players in a tournament can only come from a certain geographically designated area.

The championship trophy will instead go to the Mountain Ridge Little League team from Las Vegas, the team that lost to Jackie Robinson West in the championship game.

The ruling comes after rival coaches made allegations that some of the players had connections to the suburbs of Chicago, rather than the South side area where players must come from in order to qualify for the team.

“For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses, this is so heartbreaking,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and CEO of Little League International. “It is a sad day for a bunch of kids who we have come to really like … who did nothing wrong. But we cannot tolerate the actions of some of the adults involved here.”

Team head coach Darold Butler was immediately suspended from all Little League activities, but remains upbeat and proud of the boys he coaches throughout the entire summer.

“I’m super proud of the boys and what they did,” Butler said. “They always will be champions in my eyes, and they’ll always be champions in a lot of people’s eyes. They did it on the field in between the lines, and I’m the proudest coach in the world to be a part of a group of 13 boys like that.”

Despite the recent objections, the team continues to be hailed by the city of Chicago for their accomplishments this past summer, including mayor Rahm Emanuel going out of his way to grant the players their hard-earned championship rings, as well as the team previously going on trips to the White House and the 2014 World Series in San Francisco.

While it’s very obvious that the coaching staff should face harsh consequences for their actions, it shouldn’t equal consequences for the players to deal with.

Simply put, the championship wasn’t won because of the geographic location that the players may have come from, but because of the will to win and perseverance the boys held onto throughout the season, and the everlasting bonds and memories they made along the way.

There’s no way those kids should have their trophy taken away. They didn’t know what they were doing. The coaches should be the only ones getting any criticism.”

— Sam Hauer

It’s hard to imagine the emotions going on inside of these boys, who are only thirteen years old at most and have to deal with all of their hard work and hours of practice be taken away in the blink of an eye. At that age I probably wouldn’t understand the meaning of any of it, and question the reasoning behind my hard work taken away because of something I didn’t do.

Jackie Robinson West should not have been totally stripped of their championship title, but just should have an asterick next to their name, like steroid users in the hall of fame. The coaches should be suspended and possibly be fined, but what the great things the amazing kids did out on the field is something that cannot be ruled illegitimate by the Little League board members.

Coaches shouldn’t be the only people that the heat for this mess. The parents of the kids playing for Jackie Robinson West probably knew full well of the rules they were violating when they signed their son up to play for the team, and don’t have the capacity to speak out against the little league for making the decision.

I feel the move to take their title away was right, because it was technically cheating, but I feel bad for the kids involved because the coach put them in the situation. I think the foul play should be blamed on the parents and coaches not the kids but titles should still be stripped.”

— Kevin Young

Starting varsity catcher Sam Hauer believes that the players shouldn’t be punished for something they didn’t even know about.

“There’s no way those kids should have their trophy taken away. They didn’t know what they were doing. The coaches should be the only ones getting any criticism.”

Kevin Young, starting third baseman for the hometown Sayler Park Twisters, believes that the punishment was just, but that he feels for the kids who lost their championship for something out of their control.

“I feel the move to take their title away was right, because it was technically cheating, but I feel bad for the kids involved because the coach put them in the situation. I think the foul play should be blamed on the parents and coaches not the kids but titles should still be stripped.”

Senior Ethan Duwell, quite possibly the biggest baseball fan Elder has to offer, doesn’t like the growing similarities in the frame of mind between the little league and the professional level.

“I would say that it’s a shame because little leaguers, who are supposed to be loving the game, are being drawn into this collegiate and professional mentality that is centered around recruiting the best of the best for the team, ignoring important qualities like character or the love for the game.”

“They should just get an asterick next to their names instead of taking the trophy away. If steroid users can get away with just an astericks then why can’t a bunch of innocent kids do it?”

There are currently ongoing actions to restore the championship trophy to its deserving owner. Illinois state representative Monique Davis has brought the issue to the Statehouse, calling it “unfair” to strip the title and is calling for all teams to be “held to the same standards”. In addition Rev. Jesse Jackson is threatening a lawsuit against the little league if the decision is not reversed.

Between lawsuits and controversy, it’s becoming harder and harder to see remember the real reason these kids even started to play baseball in the first place. They set off from Day 1 of the season to bring home that championship trophy, and, in the process, accomplished something that nobody can vote on to take that away from them.

The players on Jackie Robinson West know what they accomplished this season, and whether the trophy is restored or not, doesn’t change what they did and the odds they overcame to get where they did.