Parents the Problem of Chicago Little League
It seems hard to believe that once again we have to re-examine what message parents are sending to their kids in this country. In this case I’m referring to the Little League team from Chicago that had it’s national championship taken away last week. At the heart of the problem is adults and coaches involved with the Jackie Robinson West team, changed the boundaries from which a team could have players from, putting together a team that defeated a team from Las Vegas to win the United States Little League title and advance to the World tournament. It was uncovered–as you would almost always expect it would be–by another team and the Little League International made the ruling to take the title away from the Jackie Robinson team and announce that Las Vegas was the national champion.
The International Little League office had little choice, as the violations by the Jackie Robinson West team were clear cut. Other teams and regions were aware of the violations and demanded justice. Unfortunately, instead of using this as a teaching tool for 12 year-olds, that life isn’t always fair and sometimes you have to pay for others mistakes. Parents and even the majority of Chicago cried foul and said the punishment was unjust (and some even insinuated it was racially based since the entire Jackie Robinson West team is black).
The team officials who changed the boundaries and then tried to get other teams officials to cover it up, have been removed. The parents’ complaint is that their kids are being wrongly punished for something they had no involvement in. While this is probably true–no one has suggested that any of the players knew they weren’t playing on a team outside the boundaries of their homes–what is the International Little League office supposed to do? Lack of knowledge by the players doesn’t change the fact that instead of a neighborhood team out of the South Side of Chicago winning the title, an all-star team of hand picked players beat other teams who did play within their boundaries. How fair is it that they would be allowed to keep their title and victories? The message gets sent that cheating pays off, and even if you get caught, you get to keep all your winnings. That’s not how it happens in life, in business or sports.
Hell, high school teams have titles taken away all the time because a coach broke rules or one player was ineligible…everyone has to pay even if they knew nothing about it. These whining parents need to stop sending the message to kids that if you get a bad deal, complain about it, blame it on someone else, anyone else. This isn’t an opportunity for parents to teach their young teenagers how to point the finger at others and get mad at the system. It is a chance to build character in those young boys. Tell them they did nothing wrong, played hard and should be proud of what they accomplished, even if they don’t have a trophy to hold up.
The trophy will tarnish and fade along with all of the newspaper stories about them. The character they build will last a lifetime.