People across the U.S. were mourning Wednesday for the the children of the Jackie Robinson West Little League team, who were stripped of their hard-fought 2014 U.S. championship title because of the rule-breaking adults in charge of them.
The team gave up its championship title Wednesday after Little League Baseball determined that both the team and its district “knowingly violated” league rules by recruiting players who did not live within the team’s geographical boundaries.
“They’re still the champs to me,” Frank Jackson, a parent of one of the players on the team, told the Chicago Tribune. “They went all the way, they did what they had to do and went out there and played ball. This isn’t their fault.”
Many people voiced frustration that Jackie Robinson West, the first all-black team to win the U.S. Little League championship, would be punished for the missteps of adults. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, questioned why Little League Baseball didn’t do more to uncover the problem before the team took home the championship.
“That adult Little League officials failed to thoroughly investigate allegations in a timely manner, and therefore allowed these boys to play throughout the season, even as they continued to advance to the World Series, is reprehensible,” Lewis wrote in a blog post. “To strip Jackie Robinson West of its title nearly six months after securing the win tarnishes the efforts of our children who have dodged bullets, school closings and reductions in their school athletic programs in order to compete and win on the playing field.”
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