Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Karen Lewis on the decision to strip the Little League national title from Jackie Robinson West

“I do not respect the decision of Little League International because the officials have not respected the ethical and emotional well-being of the children involved in this matter. The young men of Jackie Robinson West brought their talent, skills, smarts and hearts to the playing field and captivated a nation by securing a national championship for themselves and our city.” 

“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. 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.

“I stand with parents, youth, teachers and community members who are outraged by this Black History month smack in the face by people with no regard for the young lives impacted by this.  The boys are now being labeled and humiliated as 'cheats' and are being made scapegoats due to the folly of grown men.

“I remain proud of our students securing their place in history as the first all-African American Little League team to win the coveted Little League national championship. It is not lost on my community that they are named for a sports and civil rights icon that also had to break down barriers of racial hatred, segregation, and the 1 percent’s total disregard for his right to exist as a human being.

“Jackie Robinson West should retain its title, be issued an apology, and every player should receive full-ride scholarships for college sponsored by the people who have humiliated these boys, their families and their community.”


  1. Think of the positive experience of the JRW. Doors were opened that would have remained closed. This team will always remain in our hearts as champions. This is a failure of the adults not the kids. The adults broke the rules. Ethically, the decision is valid. Painful but a good decision. Now, we get to see character. I think we should use this moment as a teachable moment. I am so sorry that they have to learn this lesson. All of the teams are impacted by the actions of a few unethical adults. No matter what is said or done it will cause conflict. There was really no other ethical choice. We have to teach our future.

    1. from Richard Palzer:

      As sad as the situation is for the kids, you're right about the decision for its "teachable moment" opportunity. I wish there were a way that the players could retain the championship they earned, that only the culpable adults would be punished. From all of the reactions I've read, even from a member of the Las Vegas team they defeated, the JRW players are still regarded as winners, everyone considering them innocent victims. I disagree with Karen Lewis that the players' efforts are tarnished, that they're being "labeled and humiliated as 'cheats' and are being made scapegoats." I think people are even more sympathetic, understanding they've been victimized--and no one can take away what really matters--their earned accomplishments, their pride in doing so, and the memories of sincere, heartfelt appreciation for their efforts and success. Taking their names off a plaque, however official, does not alter what they achieved--and they're winners in the hearts of all who ultimately matter.