J.R. Gamble of The Shadow League is reporting the 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League stripped of their Little League World Series U.S. Championship, is fighting back in court. The team was stripped of its U.S. Title after allegations that the team had brought in ringers from outside towns and manipulated district lines to form the best lineup they could. Once celebrated, the team and handlers were eviscerated by the media, particularly sports commentators. Now the team is headed to court to prove that they didn’t cheat and that their reputations were maligned by a host of people, who caused the youngsters and their families undue distress.
“The lawsuit names Little League International, ESPN and officials from the local league, including the team’s former coach, Darold Butler, former league president Bill Haley, Evergreen Park whistleblower Chris Janes and ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.
In addition, the suit alleges the controversy resulted in emotional distress, defamation of character and invasion of privacy of the team’s members and family.”
According to Gamble who interviewed NBA legend Isiah Thomas, some of the addresses of the kids were changed because some of them were homeless. Gamble writes:
“In a recent conversation I had with Chicago hero and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, some of the kids on the team had big-time family issues, financial issues and housing instability consistent with young African-American kids trying to survive in an urban jungle. These complicated social matters made it much more difficult for the team. ‘You had kids who were homeless staying with other families and parents who weren’t working, so they didn’t have consistent addresses,’ Thomas said.
Thomas says it was less about coaches and parents ‘cheating’ and more about navigating the unusual circumstances that inner-city African-American youth must go through. The teams that play in these tournaments are traditionally white kids from small towns with working parents and financial support.”
Read more at The Shadow League.