To catch everyone up, the Little League did a thorough investigation of Jackie Robinson West’s all-black team and found that some members lived in areas outside of JRW’s demographics. The Little League used the results to strip the team of their title six months after their win (during Black History Month, no less).
“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 a heartbreaking decision.”
– Mr. Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and CEO.
I call foul.
By their own admission, this is not the first time players on a Little League team have come from outside a team’s designated area. A mom of a player formerly on the Evergreen Park team, the whistle-blowers against JRW, has even come forward to share how they falsified documents to allow her son to play on their team. If integrity were really that important to the officials of Little League, why didn’t they check the demographics of all players from every team before they were allowed to play in the World Series?
“It’s not about race. Stop making it about race.”
– Just about every white guy commenting on every post about the stripped title.
I call double foul.
It is quite common for students and their families to move to be at a school or on a team that is the best. Of course, such students have families with the means to make this happen. Still other families use an address that is not their residence to register (grandma’s house, a rental, etc.).
Given the challenging economic conditions of the areas within and around JRW’s jurisdiction, my guess is that many students on the team would not have the means to pick up and move to be on a winning team. So some adults made it possible for them to play anyway — differently than the adults who pick up and move, but with the same intent.
Perhaps we should investigate the team that now has the title and see how many students moved shortly before they started on the team? We might also spend more of the Little League’s valuable money (that should be going to the kids) making sure the team members live at their listed addresses.
Let’s face it, youth sports have become a game of economics, one that leaves kids without strong financial resources in the proverbial dust. In the case of this Chicago team, because the economic disparity of its district and surrounding areas runs largely along racial lines (to the disadvantage of the black population in the area), talented players who might not have been able to play at their level otherwise were allowed to play on a winning team that challenged them.
And play they did. That members may have lived outside of the mapped area does not negate how hard they worked to win the title.
Rather than celebrate the opportunities given to a larger swath of Chicago kids, the accusing team, having violated the rules themselves, prompted an investigation — one meant to strip them of their title. Add to that the fact that the only winning teams ever to be investigated have consisted of all non-white players, how else might we interpret the targeting of this particular team?
To strip them of their victory over a rule that rich, white kids can and do often bypass, without investigations being thrust upon them after winning, is shameful and grotesquely racist and classist.
So, yes, white guys on the internet, this IS also about race. If you want to claim it is not, the Little League will have to investigate every team that has ever won and strip those who had students living outside of their areas of their titles. I am fairly certain that no team will be left standing in the end.