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Devan Fink

United States

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I am a baseball reporter. Since November 2012, I have covered the latest news and rumors in baseball. Visit my website at coverthosebases.com.

US Little League Champion Found Guilty of "Cheating"

May 11, 2015

Playing Little League is one of the joys of childhood. Little League Baseball has been around forever, shaping children into solid baseball players and good sportsmen. 

In 2014, Jackie Robinson West, a Chicago Little League team, became the first African American Little League team to win the United States championship. They slugged their way into the hearts of Americans, including President Barack Obama’s, whom they met at the White House. However, this past February, the team was stripped of their title because it was discovered that they cheated.

Gaining a competitive edge is the way to dominate in any sport. That edge does not have to be illegal. It could be from practicing extra hours and working harder. Sadly, the Jackie Robinson West team took the wrong route. Their coach, Darold Butler, had recruited players outside of Jackie Robinson West’s boundaries to build a superteam.

President Obama said that he was still proud of Jackie Robinson West, citing “dirty dealing” by adults as the issue. Even though it was not the players’ fault, they lost the title and are the ones punished.

This is not the first time that Little League teams have cheated. In 1992, Zamboanga City, Philippines' Little League won the World Series. Later, they admitted to using a national all-star team, including eight players outside Zamboanga City boundaries. In 2001, Rolando Paulino Little League in New York was disqualified for using 14-year-old pitcher Danny Almonte, who was two years older than the legal age. 

Is it not a little sad that adult coaches are ruining a children’s game?

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen still supported Jackie Robinson West. Third baseman teammate Josh Harrison and he are the only two African Americans on the Pirates. Fewer African Americans are playing baseball than ever before.  It is hard for inner-city children to get noticed and play in front of scouts, and they often do not have the money for travel baseball.

In an article for The Players Tribune, McCutchen said that children from low income families have a hard time getting recognized; it costs "thousands of dollars for the chance to be noticed." He discussed how even though his parents loved him, they barely had enough money to put food on the table and could not afford to skip a shift at work to take him to weekend tournaments. McCutchen added that while cheating is wrong, in today’s competitive market, it may get player recognition.

While it is immoral to cheat, McCutchen makes a great point. These underprivileged kids got the opportunity to appear on television in front of millions of people. This notoriety might lead to a college scholarship or professional baseball.  That spurs the question: Did cheating do more good than harm? That may never be fully answered, but it is possible that good can come from this situation.  Even if they are no longer the United States champions, they may benefit in the long run. I am not sure that is a bad thing. This “title run” could possibly change their lives.

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  • May 11, 2015 - 9:50pm (Now Viewing)

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