Comment of the Day: “Why Our Children Will Grow Up To Be Cheats and Liars: The Little League Champs Are Banned For Cheating, And Are Told That They Should Be Proud”

Well, one out of three isn', actually, it IS bad...

Well, one out of three isn’t…no, actually, it IS bad…

johnburger2013 contributes the kind of Comment of the Day Ethics Alarms doesn’t see very often: a researched follow-up to the original post that raises separate ethics issues. My post was about the cheating involved in the Jackie Robinson West team’s championship; John’s explores how the Little League itself behaved unethically, and attempted to duck its duty. I often can’t research the stories covered here beyond the aspects of it that sparked the ethics commentary, and in some cases, like this one, the result is an incomplete picture. I am grateful to John and every other commenter who goes the extra mile that my futile attempts to cover the vast ethics landscape miss, skip over, or neglect.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Why Our Children Will Grow Up To Be Cheats and Liars: The Little League Champs Are Banned For Cheating, And Are Told That They Should Be Proud” :

I am not sure that Little League International has all that integrity. LLI was perfectly content to encourage the feel good story of underprivileged kids from Chicago’s South Side making it all the way to the series final, only to lose to South Korea. These players were honored by the White House and had photo ops with the President and First Lady. In a sport that has lost interest from the Black community, here was a heart warming story of the little guy making it big.

However, LLI had been on notice that the boundary and residency requirements had been manipulated, or outright disregarded, to create a team of ringers vying for the title. LLI wanted the narrative so it closed its investigation, only then to have its decision to blow up in its face because a reporter kept asking questions. This has turned into a huge ethics problem for LLI.

According to Yahoo! Sports,

“[t]he charge to discipline Jackie Robinson West was led by Chris Janes from neighboring Evergreen Park Little League, which Jackie Robinson West beat 43-2 on its way to the Little League World Series tournament. Jackie Robinson West then made it all the way to the International finals, where it lost to South Korea. Mark Konkol, a reporter with DNA Chicago, had been on the Jackie Robinson West case like a police dog, sniffing out complaints and detractors, ultimately compelling Little League International to re-open the case.

“The first inkling of a controversy surrounding Jackie Robinson West came in December, and the following months have included numerous Little League rivals speaking out. Other Little League officials in Chicago claimed that a new district administrator changed the Chicago boundaries without necessary approvals. That [district] administrator,[Michael] Kelley, was a part of Jackie Robinson West for 20 years prior.”

It is more than “manipulating boundaries” to field a team of ringers. This is about conflicts of interest (Michael Kelley, the district administrator had been a part of JRW for 20 years); cover ups (LLI swept the investigation under the rug when it reviewed evidence after the tournament about eligibility and boundaries); big money (in an era where baseball seems to be losing out to other sports), and serious obligations dodges (“As our Little League operations staff learned of the many issues and actions that occurred over the course of 2014 and prior, as painful as this is, we feel it a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program,” the League organization said of its decision. “No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries.”).

The ethics heroes are Mark Konkol, a reporter with DNA Chicago who did not drop the story, and Chris Janes from neighboring Evergreen Park Little League, who persisted in pressing the issue.

Ethics idiots are people who respond this way: “We’re just blown away by this,” Venisa Green, mother of Jackie Robinson West player Brandon Green, told the Chicago Tribune. “All of the parents and kids together — we had no knowledge or forewarning, no communication from the league.”

She told the Tribune she wondered if the team’s title would’ve been questioned if the kids weren’t African American.

“Would they rather the boys be killed in the Chicago streets than actively engaged in the sport they love?” she said. “My breath is taken away.”

10 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Why Our Children Will Grow Up To Be Cheats and Liars: The Little League Champs Are Banned For Cheating, And Are Told That They Should Be Proud”

  1. Green’s injection of race into the scandal shows how this reflex reaction any time a black American has to take responsibility for anything, has become the living embodiment of crying wolf, on a tragic scale. Essentially, the message being sent is that African Americans shouldn’t be held accountable for anything, because its always presumptive racism beneath. This simultaneously destroys credibility that genuine racial discrimination claims might have, but worse, makes African Americans paranoid and functionally unable to determine when the solution to a problem is their own improved effort and conduct, not identifying racist conspiracies.

    Yes, the Obama years, with the cynical use of race as the default defense of first resort to an epically incompetent, divisive and catastrophic Presidency, has made this crippling social problem worse than it has ever been. It is African Americans who will suffer, grievously, because of this. One more perverse legacy of this President.

    • Which is why I asked the question I did in the original post. The ‘Racism Card’ has been played once too often, at least for me. Now, whenever something untoward happens involving blacks, my first response is “Where’s Sharpton or Jackson? How long ’till they get there shouting ‘Racism?'”

  2. I only became aware of this today. What does it say for our ethics and those we pass down to our children that “manipulation” is okay; not only at professional and even college levels, but right down to Little League itself? Is there any sports organization at all that isn’t tainted in this manner? I guess that remark from one of the mothers alleging racism as the motive was only to be expected.

  3. Well, to sound like a white Jeremiah Wright: The race card-players’ self-righteous and hypocritical chickens have come home to roost.

    Now we can say that even the so-called adult supervision of a children’s team sport is capable of bringing shame to the office of President of the U.S. That is progress, I suppose.

    I dread for the additional scandals throughout LLI which will be exposed, alleged, or fabricated in the wake of the JRW league’s cheating. But perhaps I dread even more for the ethics poverty which this scandal appears poised to multiply incessantly and unendingly, on and off the baseball field.

  4. This is as good a place as any to remind reader of this post, one of my favorites, about Little League Ethics from 2011. I re-posted it then from the original Ethics Scoreboard post in 2006. I think it’s my first Ethics Quiz, and it is germane to the current story because it explores the alleged Little League Pledge, which the current complaining, race-baiting parents seem to have forgotten:

    I trust in God
    I love my country
    And will respect its laws
    I will play fair
    And strive to win
    But win or lose
    I will always do my best

    (Playing and winning on a team stocked with ringers is not “fair.”)

  5. The only valid point that seems to be brought up by the current crop of race-baiting commentators (like Jesse Jackson) is “how many other teams have done this?”. I don’t think it is valid to allow this to detract from this offense (they were the national champs, THAT is why they have more scrutiny), but I think it is valid to ask if this type of cheating is happening everywhere. I suspect they are right in suggesting this goes on elsewhere, I just disagree that it makes what Jackie Robinson West did wrong.

    I remember trying out for a baseball league in 3rd grade. My coach cancelled the team before or just after the first practice and didn’t tell us why. I finally got my mother to tell me why it was cancelled. It turned out that a few coaches had scouted the players in advance. The league held a big tryout-day and teams were picked (like in a draft). The coaches ‘in the know’ had told the best players to intentionally play poorly so they could be drafted later. This resulted in about 4 ‘super’ teams and bunch of ‘sucker’ teams. My coach found out about it and cancelled our team. I got to listen to kids on the ‘super’ teams talk about how the other coaches and players were ‘suckers’ and how the ‘super’ teams were trouncing everyone else.

    If my 3rd grade classmates were aware of this kind of thing, what are the chances the kids on the Jackie Robinson West team were unaware of what was going on when a bunch of good players suddenly were in their district? What are the chances these star players didn’t know what was going on when they were redistricted only to suddenly find themselves on the same team with a bunch of stars from a variety of districts? Don’t assume these kids are just finding out about this now. They most likely have been patting themselves on the back for being good enough to be on the ‘all star’ team all year. They have also probably been making fun of the ‘suckers’ in the other districts.

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