Jackie Robinson West Little League adults need to own up in title scandal

Jackie Robinson West Little League adults need to own up in title scandal
CHAMPS NO MORE...Jackie Robinson West's title was stripped after rules violations. Where are the adults? In hiding..apparently

In the hours since Jackie Robinson West’s U.S. Little League title was stripped, where are now-former team manager Darold Butler and District 4 administrator Michael Kelly?

Hiding, it would appear.

Neither Butler nor Kelly has released a statement through lawyers. They have not held press conferences.  They have not responded to innumerable  press inquiries to explain their side of the story.

Do they feel shame for conspiring to change addresses and boundaries for the sake of building an all-star Little League team? Do they feel a responsibility to the kids, who were apparently blindsided Wednesday morning with the news that  their entire 2014 season has now been obliterated from the record books?

It appears they’re running and hiding, leaving the damage behind.

Little League International said “after an extensive review,” it determined that the team “knowingly violated Little League International rules and regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s boundaries.”

Chicago Tribune, 2/11/15

The Chicago Tribune reported the parents had no warning prior to the stripping of the title.  Venisa Green, mother of Jackie Robinson West player Brandon Green, told the Tribune she found out Wednesday morning, on the news.

“We’re just blown away by this. All of the parents and kids together — we had no knowledge or forewarning, no communication from the league.”

Jackie Robinson West parent Venisa Green, to the Chicago Tribune

The descent into madness started back in August, when suburban districts not in Jackie Robinson West boundaries began honoring its winning ‘hometown heroes.’ That raised suspicions among neighboring suburban Little League teams. Mark Konkol of DNAInfo.com  broke the story. District 4 sources told DNAinfo.com that:

“The map submitted to Little League International expanding Jackie Robinson West’s boundaries this year was turned in without the permission of the presidents of the other leagues — including the Roseland, Rosemoor and South Side leagues — that were affected by the changes.”

There’s also been plenty of speculation that this came down because the players are African-American, playing in a largely Caucasian district, which raised suspicions. These are allegations of intent that will, in my estimation, never be fully explained.

But accountability among grownups is where my concern lies. There are a lot of great websites that do great justice to a very long and complicated story. Start with Konkol’s groundbreaker at DNAInfo.com.

But here’s what I take from it:

  •  Adults own up to wrongdoing. That’s why they’re called adults
  • They need to talk privately to each child and family involved.
  • Butler and Kelly need to explain their side. Not for exoneration…for clarity
  • They need to face the public and apologize
  • The Little League kids in Jackie Robinson West need to have event-specific counseling to manage their feelings
  • Little League International needs to set some iron-clad rules regarding league boundaries and needs to employ some skilled individuals to screen each league

What are your thoughts?


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