During Wednesday’s airing of “First Take” on ESPN2, featured network regular Stephen A. Smith reacted to the news that the Jackie Robinson West Little League World Series team would be stripped of all of its Little League World Series wins, including the USA title, for the 2014 season. The team went on to lose in the Little League World Series championship game to South Korea, but it was recently discovered that Jackie Robinson West violated a rule prohibiting the use of players who live outside the geographic area that the team represents.
In Smith’s opinion, the parents should be ashamed of themselves.
“I’m in pain over this one, to be quite honest with you, because of those kids,” Smith said. “They’re innocent in all of this. By all accounts, they were of age; they came together as a team. They just went out there, and they compete, and obviously Mo’ne Davis, we loved her, loved what we saw from her and what have you. People bring stuff like that up, and you see these stories, and it just resonates in such a profoundly positive way, and the adults screw it up. Because of, you know, starving for notoriety, starving for recognition, starving to win, and willing to sell kids’ dreams out in order to pull it off.”
“If there can be good news taken from this, it’s a couple of things,” he continued. “Number one, this little league has existed for 75 years. This is only the third time it has happened where they’ve had to take a move this measure. Two other times it was primarily due to over aged players participating: one from the Philippines, another one from the Bronx, where, you know, I’ve got Danny Almonte, he was over age. This is the third time this has happened. It doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t happen every other year for crying out loud. It’s rare. Number two, let’s put their names out here. We’ve got a team manager by the name of Darold Butler suspended from little league activity. Good! We’ve got Michael Kelly, Illinois District 4 administrator, removed from his position. Good! Hopefully it will be permanently, because this is completely and utterly unnecessary. You know, let me also add what really resonates to me and what makes this hurt even more, Skip.”
“This is called the Jackie Robinson West team,” Smith added. “Jackie Robinson, as renowned a figure in sports annals as ever there was, responsible for integrating major league baseball in 1947, an iconic and revered and deified figure in our community and in American history, you have his name attached to this, because it’s Jackie Robinson West, ok? First all-African-American team to win the championship and this is how you did it? Just disgraceful. It’s a shame. And the only thing we have to be thankful for — thank God the kids really had nothing to do with this. A bunch of adults, and parents who knew better, parents who knew better decided to do this. Pox on all of their houses, they should all be ashamed of themselves.”
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