Since covering the Little League World Series was one of the absolute best highlights of my sportscasting career, if not THE best... I wanted to give my take on the recent scandal that got the team from Chicago disqualified... Do you agree or disagree? (Feel free to debate on the comment thread below):
People want to make it race vs. justice. One or the other... But I think it's both.
I think race is definitely an element to the story and one that shouldn't be ignored. It was the first all-African-American team to win the U.S. Championship at a time where African-Americans make up only 7.8% of MLB rosters, so this was a MAJOR accomplishment... And everything was fine until a white coach of a rival team raised concerns about the JRW roster, alleging the team went beyond the geographical boundary limits to bring this talented group of kids together.
LL administrators concluded JRW obviously violated this particular rule, so the championship must be forfeited... It's a brutal ruling, especially for the kids.
One parent said, "It is amazing to me that whenever African-Americans exceed the expectations that there is always going to be fault." That sentiment is shared by many.
In the days that have since followed... Rev. Jesse Jackson took the national spotlight to say the decision was "untimely and too harsh." He's threatening a lawsuit. I agree that the decision was untimely. LLWS administrators should have been more diligent in determining eligibility from the very start.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel says he's still giving the kids championship rings despite the violations.
But what do Jackson and Emmanuel's efforts say to the kids? That cheating is OK?
I think the ruling was fair, unfortunately, because there are no winners here.
Here's one thing that I think is completely overlooked:
Kids are NOT stupid. Kids are often treated as if they are completely innocent victims (and for the most part they are). But I'd bet that down deep, most of them all know something unfair was done in order for them to gain an advantage. They're old enough to at least recognize it. 10-15 years from now, when these kids are adults, they'll better understand the issues...
The responsibility here ultimately falls on the shoulders of the JRW adults who cheated in order to create this All-Star roster.
So here is a solution for the immediate future... Little League should (& better) investigate every team that made the finals this past year, not just the one all African-American team. Hold all violators accountable.
Last thing I think about when it comes to this topic... Whether it's sports, politics or finance... It seems to me that we live in a culture where lying and cheating to gain some sort of advantage has become a cornerstone of how we operate as a country. It's just a damn shame.
One positive takeaway is that African-American kids showed (on national television) they could compete at the highest level in a sport where their overall baseball participation levels are dwindling.
Hopefully their talents inspire the next wave of youth.
And hopefully this "harsh" ruling persuades the next Little League All-Star team to win it fairly.
Magic G Victor Oladipo out indefinitely to start the 2014 season with a facial fracture.
Tough news for the Orlando Magic, as up-and-comer Victor Oladipo suffered a facial fracture in practice Thursday, an injury that will keep him out of the lineup "indefinitely," according to GM Rob Hennigan. Oladipo will have a surgical procedure Saturday to correct the injury.
Oladipo finished 2nd in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting in 2013-14.
The Magic have a mix of veterans and young players at the guard position. Ben Gordon, Evan Fournier, Luke Ridnour, Maurice Harkless, Elfrid Payton, Willie Green could see extended minutes in Oladipo's absence.
Orlando begins the regular season Tuesday night in New Orleans.
Press release via the Orlando Magic:
Orlando, FL -- Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo will be out indefinitely after suffering a facial fracture in practice Thursday, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today.
Oladipo, who was evaluated Thursday afternoon, will undergo a corrective surgical procedure on Saturday. He was injured after taking an inadvertent elbow during a practice drill.
Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) has not played during the preseason due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Last season (2013-14), he played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 stlpg. in 31.1 minpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).
Originally selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He was also named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month twice (December 2013, February 2014).