Friday, February 13, 2015

Responsibility Versus Race Card

In Peachtree City, Georgia, last year, a little league team was getting ready to leave the next day for the regional championships. They had won their local division title. The night before their departure the league president called the coaches and gave them bad news.

Because of several violations of league rules, including having players that were not eligible to play on the team, the team had to forfeit their title. The second place team was awarded the win and got to advance to the regional games. The league president, Brandon Taylor, expressed his regret of having to take their title.

"It was nothing but broken hearts and sadness," Taylor said. "There have been a lot of tears shed over this."

"As the president of this league, it's on me," Taylor said. "If we make an error, I am standing here telling you I did. I own that. But, it is not fair to punish these kids to let them win a district championship, and a state championship, and then pull the rug out when three levels of Little League officials missed it, just like we did."

When asked how the team was handling the blow Taylor said their response showed just how good their sportsmanship is.

"They have not said a bad word about anybody," Taylor said. "They just wanted to play ball. They had a dream. A little league dream. They had it and it was pulled out from under them, literally the night before they headed to the tournament."

Jump halfway across the country to Chicago. The little league team "Jackie Robinson West" was stripped of their national title when it was discovered they had padded their roster with boys who were not eligible to play on the team. 

Complaints were lodged by two other teams who had played in the championship tournament and the league investigated. The team was stripped of the title because of their findings.

But in Chicago the reaction to the league's decision is a little different. According to parents of the boys, at least one attorney, Father Michael Pfleger and Jesse Jackson, the boys were stripped of the title not because the team cheated but because of their skin color.

Both Pfleger and Jackson appeared at a press conference following the announcement of the league's decision.

"Is this about boundaries or race? This decision's untimely and inappropriate at this time," Jackson told reporters. "It should not take six months after a team has played a championship game to determine eligibility to play the game in the first place."

"When you're going over to voter registration and going to birth certificates and doing all this time of hunting and a witch hunt that's been going on for the last number of months, I can't help but wonder the question if the same thing would have been done with another team from another place, another race," Pfleger said.

"It is amazing to me that whenever African-Americans exceed the expectations that there is always going to be fault," said one parent.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has called for the team to have its title restored.

It seems that if a team is caught cheating and the players are black then the cheating is supposed to be overlooked. I feel sorry for the boys who played the game. They were led by adults who broke the rules. But what are these people, Jackson, Pfleger, et al, teaching the boys? "If you cheat to win and get away with it, that's good. If you cheat to win and get caught - play the race card."

It seems to me that Jackson, Pfleger, and some of the parents could learn something from the Georgia team. Certainly being mostly white that team can't play the race card but they accepted the consequences of their coaches actions and are handling their disappointment with dignity. 

I can't help but wonder who came up with the racist allegations first - Jackson and Pfleger or the parents of the boys. My guess would be Jackson. That's how he makes his living. I guess I won't call him a race baiter though. A few weeks ago he said that was racist.

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