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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jackie Robinson West, Stripped Of Championship Title, Sues Little League

Last year, Jackie Robinson West, a black little league team was accused of cheating and eventually stripped of its championship title over recruiting children from outside the allowed geographic boundaries.

This year Jackie Robinson West is suing Little League over the loss of their national title.

From the various stories I've read over the last year, white teams were also recruiting from outside their geographic boundaries. In fact, the white man that reported Jackie Robinson West (JRW), Chris Janes, was accused of doing the same type of recruitment.

But you know what? This is little league baseball. Who cares?

However, if you do care, and you want to check where everybody lives then the governing body should do it at the beginning of the season. Seems like common sense right?

Turns out it's common sense that was followed.

It looks like a governing body of some Little League office does do this. A Little League District Office signed off on the JRW's roster knowing full well where everybody lived.

If this is important, then why wasn't it important to the District?

And if the District signed off on it, why isn't that the same as Little League's governing body sign off on it? Why didn't the interim organization (if there is some sort of an American Little League Organization) forward that information to Little League International?

Why isn't somebody from Little League International on down to the District Office taking responsibility for the actions of the District Office? Why would the Little League District exist if it has no governing responsibilities? And if the District is not considered some part of the Little League's organization, then who is in charge validating information (that it must have received at some point) within the Little League International's Organization?

In other words, who dropped the ball? And why is it the JRW Team Management's fault if they turned in what they were supposed to turn in to the District?  

And why was there a re-check after the title had been won anyway?

I know there was a complaint -- from a white man named Chris Janes who was reportedly doing the same thing. But why follow up on on the compliant if the geographic boundary was already signed of by the District and that paperwork (had to have been) turned in.

And if various others knew that the geographic boundaries were not being taken that seriously, then what changed -- after the title had been won by a bunch of little black boys?

"At a press conference held on June 24, 2015, at the Ray & Joan Kroc Sports Center in Chicago, Jackie Robinson West officials and their attorney Victor Henderson released a 100-page report of their own investigation. The report documents the teams’ correspondence with officials at Little League International, including emails, letters, maps and other documents that show the team was given support and approval by Little League International to play several times before it won the championship. “We are willing to stand by the mistakes that were made, but we want to be treated fairly,” Henderson said. “Little League has to be held accountable and Chris Janes has to be held accountable."

Henderson said any protest of player ineligibility should have been made before games were played, according to the Little League rule book, not afterward.  "

My mind has wandered back to one of my original points. Why is there a hard and fast rule about geographic location, anyway? We're talking little league not voting.

What if Black Mr. And Mrs. Jones who live in suburban Whiteville would like their black children to play with other black children on a predominantly black team, a few times a week, after spending on all day in Whiteville school, going to Whiteville afterschool  computer programs, and going to Whiteville Church on Sunday? (Chicago is pretty segregated)

What if Black Mr. And Mrs. Jones want their kids to learn about sportsmanship, teamwork, and fair play with other kids that look like them...JUST SOMETIMES. And beyond making sure their kids don't feel like outsiders 24/7 every damn day of the year, at least one story I've read said that the white teams didn't want these little black boys on their teams.

What does the Little League Districting Rulebook say about that?  

Some want to say what happened to Jackie Robinson West has nothing to do with race because the white man that reported the JRW team is married to a black woman and has four children by her. But I submit to you that a white man that reports on black people is always taken seriously. And he knows that. What he didn't know is that his wife being black wasn't going to shield his use of white privilege to attack black children.

And even if his black wife is not a female Tiger Woods who agreed to live her husband in the historically black-unfriendly suburb of Evergreen Park and raise children, his white maleness being taken seriously makes this story about race.  Furthermore, the team he coaches, as a white man, has not been scrutinized despite a black mother reporting to a Chicago News Paper that Janes has recruited outside geographic boundary lines as well, in the past.

Jackie Robinson West, in addition to suing the Little League, has left the Little League International Organization to play in the Babe Ruth's Cal Ripken Division so that they can keep the team together.

Raise a glass. Here's to hoping Jackie Robinson West wins in both places, in court and in their new league.