The parents aren’t always the culprits in baseball crimes

Thomas Trainer

The parents of the members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League team (Chicago, Ill.), the surprising United States Champions and International runners-Up from last summer’s Little League World Series, have released a joint statement condemning the 11-to-13 year-old boys for falsifying residency boundaries in order to add otherwise ineligible players to their roster.

Although Little League International has stated that the investigation has found no evidence to suggest that the players had any knowledge of the infractions, the parents, coaches and league officials of the little league team have placed full blame on the boys.

“We are saddened,” the parents stated, “that the boys, our own children, would break the rules just to win a silly tournament.” They added that “it is sickening to know that the boys would take it entirely upon themselves to go to such great lengths, fabricating Jackie Robinson West’s residency boundaries to steal players from other leagues in order to create a super-team.

“What is worse,” the parents continued, “is that they would continue to lie to the Little League community, the city of Chicago, and the entire country for a whole summer, never once stopping to think that what they were doing was immature, unfair and blatantly wrong.”

According to Little League officials, the adults claim to have been unaware of the scheme, and have gone on record to state that they played no role in cheating other little league teams—other children— out of fair competition.

In separate interviews, the parents and coaches expressed disappointment over the speculation from investigative authorities and journalists who believe that the parents may have been involved in the boundary scheme.

It is a shame that this is what youth sports have become, and it is extremely disheartening that young boys would take advantage of innocent adults. As more and more information about the boundary scheme is uncovered, it is becoming apparent the adults are indeed the true victims.

The players allegedly forced their parents to transport them to 6:00 a.m. practices throughout the fall and winter months and three practices per day during the spring and summer seasons, often sacrificing school time and work hours against the parents’ will. “We would tell them to relax, have fun, play video games, and be kids, but they were always so serious.

It was baseball, baseball, baseball—baseball all of the time. We told them it is just a silly little game, but they refused to listen,” one parent said.

This seems to be indicative of a growing trend in youth sports where kids are pressuring adults to take what were initially activities designed purely for fun, and turn them into jobs.

In fact, this scandal is not the first to tarnish Little League’s biggest stage. In 2001, 14 year-old Danny Almonte forged his own birth certificate, and then coerced his father into leaving the Dominican Republic for New York City to play on an all-star team that would make it to the U.S. championship.

The parents and coaches of the Jackie Robinson West little leaguers are only the most recent group of adults to be exploited by kids for athletic fortune and fame. “I use to be a parent, but now I’m viewed as nothing other than an agent, a nutritionist or a chauffeur,” one parent lamented.

Coaches are also feeling the heat. “The pressure these kids put on us is unbearable sometimes,” the Jackie Robinson West manager complained.

The kids reportedly often made the coaches run practice drills over and over again, well beyond practice time, until they got it right. “We told them that it is just a sport and that it was meant to be fun, but they wouldn’t hear it.

They’re so competitive it’s crazy,” another coaching assistant said. He would later say that he is not surprised that the kids would cheat, and that they would go to such great lengths to do so.

It’s as if the adults are merely puppets, and the kids are controlling the strings. The kids tell the parents when and where to go to practice or where to book long travel plans for away tournaments, they tell the coaches which and how many reps they want to take at batting practice, and they even tell league officials when to turn a blind eye to blatant rule violations.

The adults simply oblige. It is very unsettling to know that child athletes are corrupting the minds of adults at such a tender old age, and leading parents and coaches to believe that winning is everything in life.

Kids really should know better than to cheat, and as the ones who deserve the full blame, it is only right that Little League International strips the fully responsible players of Jackie Robinson West Little League of their undeserving United States Championship title. Well done Little League International and other adults for once again punishing the real culprits—the kids.