Because JRW is full of black kids, you are going to want to play the race card. This feels safe and even logical considering how America has been trending for the past 400 or so years. But before you play the race card, at least know SOME of the facts surrounding this story.
Note 1: an alternate title for this is, “JRW Can Make You Cry Two Different Ways: How’s THAT for Talent???”
Note 2: I’m not going to cite sources, though I have many, because they are all stories from journalists and internet folk, and a citation of a journalist means little nowadays, because Brian Williams.
FACT: The Jackie Robinson West league reached the regional playoffs the year before (2013), and lost because they ran out of pitching.
FACT: Pitching is hard in little league, and when you have it, you win.
FACT: Jackie Robinson West made a deliberate effort to get more pitching by expanding the geographical boundaries of its district. That is a legal move (the district can do what it wants to do) but not legal for the Little League World Series – the folks who host the particular tournament JRW ended up winning the US Title for.
FACT: There are TONS of tournaments like this, and local little leagues form traveling teams AFTER THEIR REGULAR SEASON – think All-Star team – which sometimes are multiple leagues put together. This is so common I won’t even bother arguing with folks that say this is cheating. To say this is “cheating” is to say everyone is cheating. And when everyone is cheating or a practice becomes so common and accepted, it is no longer cheating. That practice becomes part of the culture. Players being from different places, going to different schools, and forming as a Mutant League Voltron of superplayers, is the culture of traveling little league baseball. If you can’t understand that, or AAU basketball, or Texas high school football, then you really SHOULD sit this one out.
FACT: Evergreen Park lost to JRW. EP is a league for a neighborhood outside of Chicago.
FACT: EP did NOT file a complaint against JRW after that loss, EVEN THOUGH it was widely rumored (and has been for years) that JRW was getting players from all over. EP lost to JRW, and they ate it. The EP commissioner did send an email to the league commissioner, but did NOT file a formal complaint at that point.
*Race-card players: read this next one very carefully*
FACT: Rahm Emanuel is a politician, and used JRW as a victory of “his Chicago.” Mayors get to do this, so whatever. The Mayor of Lynwood wanted to take credit of his own, because one of JRW’s players lived in his town. So he made a billboard. Lynwood is outside of JRW’s boundaries.
*As Scooby Doo might say…Ruh-Roh”
Congresswoman Robin Kelly also took credit for players in her district, by shouting out some kids that lived in South Holland, also outside of the boundaries. Robin Kelly is a black woman, and felt nothing but pride for these kids.
FACT: These moments are what triggered an investigation. The LLWS concluded their investigation in December and said nothing was wrong.
FACT: After this, hell broke loose, because it was CLEAR something was wrong, and now it was clear that LLWS was going out of their way to make this go away. THAT is when the investigation began FORREAL. And after that, Evergreen Park did more research, found voting records of parents, stuff you can’t hide anymore as good as everyone tried, and the whole thing fell apart. Quickly.
It fell apart because it received so much media attention, and rightfully so (the attention, and the falling apart). I’m sad, and deeply regret how those kids must be feeling right now. By stripping the title, the punishment does NOT fit the crime.
Now the race-card players can say, “Well, this wouldn’t have happened if a white team won. There would be no investigation.” Not a dumb theory. In fact, considering America, that’s reasonable enough to say out loud. But the They-Are-Doing-This-In-February-To-Discount-Black-History-Month Truthers are not even close to facts. That’s emotional vitriol (is there another kind?) and we have enough racial tension to sort through. The There-Have-Been-Only-Three-Teams-Caught-Cheating-in-LLWS-and-They-Are-All-Black-Wink-Wink Truthers are all nuts. The other two teams had older kids that knew they were cheating. The people playing the game were actively being deceptive, and that’s what kills me so much about JRW being lumped in with them…
The coaches did this. The league administrators did this, and when it was time to check and double check BEFORE and DURING the tournament, everyone turned a blind eye. Everyone was okay with winning, because winning was the only point.
I swear…adults are the worst.
They have ruined every youth version of sport – coaches and parents have – and once again, the kids are left to suffer. Folks both black and white are implicated in this, and please, tell your congressperson if you’re going to cheat, so they don’t blow the lid off your cover.
There’s a rush to locate blame here, and you know what? It’s the JRW officials’ fault. That is an inconvenient truth, because those are black folks, but I’ll tell you whose fault it’s NOT.
It’s NOT the kids’ fault, because they played the games, and it’s unrealistic to say they knew the rules of traveling little league, and if they did know them, more unrealistic to expect them to enforce them against the will of parents and coaches. So to people saying, “You are giving kids the message it’s OK to cheat,” you really have to stop saying that. This is not on the kids at all.
It’s NOT Evergreen Park and Las Vegas’ fault, even though they are salty losers. The sourest of grapes.
It’s NOT White People’s fault, well…I am troubled by the aggressive nature people came after THIS team. We have no way of knowing whether other investigations are equally as robust. Not yet anyway, but I bet we’ll find out soon. Either way, if your spouse catches something bad in your phone, it’s NOT THEIR FAULT for looking.
*folks were ALL UP IN JRW’S phone though, ijs. Gotta have that password*
It’s JRW’s own fault for making winning the highest priority. Once that happens, in any field, all ethics are out the window. It came at the expense of kids on the field, and kids that couldn’t make the field because others were chosen over them unfairly. The league will lose most of the money its made because of this, and a dark cloud will hang over JRW as a league for YEARS. You know who suffers most because of that? THE KIDS. The kids always suffer.
The point here is adults ruin everything, including kids when they teach them to be Machiavellian and deceptive, as this example did. Adults ruin everything when they use kids for their own political purposes (we need a referendum on youth leagues ASAP), and adults ruin everything when they speak without knowing the facts.
A lot went wrong here, but none of it was on the baseball field. The title may have been vacated, but that’s all it is…a title. They are still the champs, and the grown ups tore everything down.