When the Tom Brady/ Bill Belichick/New England Patriots cheating issue was at high pitch [Aside: Notice how we have heard nothing about this at all since the Super Bowl, which the Patriots won. This is why NBC thinks it will get away with not firing Brian Williams…both the news media and the public have the attention span of closed head injury victims, especially when it comes to liars, cheaters and betrayal. They call this phenomenon “America’s belief in redemption.” It is actually is a product of America’s crippling domination by chumps, dolts, suckers….and people who are liars and cheats themselves.], a friend of mine brushed it all off saying, “It’s a game.” Well, children learn a lot about ethics from games, and if they learn that adults think cheating is acceptable (never mind that a billion dollar business is hardly just a “game”), they will cheat in their games, and later in life.
Today we learn that the inspiring 2014 Little League Champions, the Jackie Robinson West team that was the first all-African-American team to win the tournament, has been stripped of all of its wins, including those from its Great Lakes Regional and United States championships. As a result, the United States championship has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.
A Little League investigation revealed that the Jackie Robinson team, which was supposed to field a team exclusively from the Chicago South Side, secretly used an expanded boundary map. Team officials conspired with neighboring Little League districts to build what was essentially an all-star team by acquiring players from well beyond the South Side.
The disgrace ruins what had been a wonderful sports story. Baseball is struggling to build interest in its sport in the basketball-obsessed black community, and the all black Jackie Robinson West team advancing to the tournament’s world title game (where it lost to Seoul, South Korea) was a ray of hope. The team’s players received praise for their sportsmanship, and were honored by President Obama at the White House.
The Little League suspended the team’s manager, Darold Butler, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly was fired. “For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses,” Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. “This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.”
No, no, no.
They can’t be proud. Don’t say that. Knowingly or not, they were part of a conspiracy to break the rules in order to win a championship against teams that were abiding by them. This is why cheating persists: ethically idiotic rationalizations like Kenner’s pablum. Winning by illicit means, taking games and championships away from those trying to win them honestly, is nothing to be proud of. Keener’s words can easily be massaged into the assertion that for the kids, the cheating was worth it.
This is especially true in the context of current events, in sports and elsewhere. The Patriots probably cheated in a play-off game (at least), and are now Super Bowl champions. Alex Rodriquez cheated on the way to a gargantuan contract with the New York Yankees, and now that he’s served a one year suspension, he’s back on the roster and guaranteed 60 million dollars. Brian Williams’ self-inflating tall tales helped him get a 50 million dollar contract from NBC, only a small portion of which he will forfeit by being suspended for six months—for his cheating. None of the students who received bogus degrees from the University of North Carolina will lose them, despite knowingly accepting grades for non-existent courses.
And David Axelrod now tells us that our President intentionally lied about his position on gay marriage in order to get elected.
The message our culture is sending the next generation is loud, clear and ugly. Cheating pays. Everybody does it. If you are caught, people will understand. Be proud of your dishonest achievements. The only way to retract that message is to be tough, clear and unsentimental in assessing the legacy of success bought with fraud. Thanks to cheats, the Jackie Robinson West team’s success was an illusion. The players were a part of a scam, and that’s all they were part of. There is nothing to be proud of, because there were no real achievements. They should be angry at the betrayal, not grateful for the experience. Maybe if they are angry enough, they won’t want to grow up to be cheaters themselves.
Post Script: Eating lunch, I nearly choked on my sandwich hearing Gretchen Carlson indignantly ask whether it’s fair for the young players on the team to be penalized when the adults were the ones who did the cheating. The objective of the cheating was accomplished through the performance of players on the team who were playing illegally. The games won were won by the players as a direct result of the cheating.
She’s an idiot.
Facts and Graphic: ESPN