Racism in Youth Sports

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team was stripped of its U.S. Championship title for violating a residency rule. It’s very peculiar that this happened months after they won the title and competed the World Finals, and after an initial investigation found no wrongdoing.

I know for a fact that sports teams scout players from other areas all the time. Not excusing what the coach and district did (if they in fact did anything), but you can’t single one team out on something that they ALL are guilty of.

The press won’t say it, but I will: this was racially-motivated.

Chris Janes, vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, said he raised concerns in August that some Jackie Robinson players apparently lived within the boundaries of other Little Leagues, making them ineligible to play with Jackie Robinson West.

Little League officials said in December that they had reviewed the roster and found no residency violations. But citing “new information,” they met Tuesday in Williamsport, Pa., and decided that Jackie Robinson West knowingly used “a falsified boundary map” to include players who lived outside the team’s borders.

“We’re talking about 12-year-old kids and that’s tough,” Janes said. “But it’s evident that (the team) broke rules and we all need to be held accountable.”

Source: Chicago Tribune

As a former member of an all-black swim team from the South Side of Chicago, I have personally witnessed this kind of racism from Evergreen Park sports teams and other all-white Midwestern teams like it. It’s usually never the players, but rather the coaches and officials that taint the spirit of athletics.

I’m usually the last to say something is racist, but you can’t tell me this isn’t. It takes a special kind of evil to pursue the destruction of a team’s accomplishments in order to make yourself seem superior.

Knowing what I’ve known since age 11, I’m 99% sure this is what happened: Janes and his officials got mad that an all-black team wiped the floor with theirs, and didn’t rest until they found a way to “put them in their place”.

I pray that this travesty doesn’t deter these young boys from continuing to beat the odds against them. Racism is still alive and well; we just have to recognize it for what it is and push forward in spite of it.

UPDATE – 2/12/15

Several reports came out that say Evergreen Park has been recruiting players outside of their district as well.

(article originally posted on No Average Journey)