Though it’s heart-wrenching to see what the kids went through, it isn’t surprising to see Jacki Robinson West’s U.S Little League Title getting stripped off due to violations of rules of recruiting players from outside of the league’s set boundaries. The engrained element of cheating has always been a part of youth sports. Another example is Lance Armstrong who’s seven tour de France titles were stripped off because of using performance-enhancing drugs.
It has been noticed recently that some coaches are continuously trying to emphasize that there are only a few bad examples in youth sports and not everyone is involved in such stuff. The reason for them stating this is that they do not want their coaching career to end by telling the truth.
Even though Tri-Cities Soccer Association (TSCA) has got a good reputation and is considered better than other clubs, it came as a shock to me whenever I discovered a coach who wasn’t involved in cheating.
Sockers FC is one of Northern Illinois’s oldest youth soccer clubs. They have been involved in a lot of stuff, however, they always make off without getting highlighted. The main reason is that they run the Northern Illinois League, and no one can dare to speak against them. If they did, they are out of the league. So you now understand why they always get away with it.
There have been a lot of incidents where parents came to us and told us some shocking stories. For example:
- Playing a team more than once in a season, it was shocking to see how their entire team was changed the next time we played them. Sockers were the ones who did this the most. They would bring players from higher levels and would keep the average kids warming the bench.
- For more wins, teams would deliberately put themselves in lower levels of league’s. As usual, it was more common with Sockers, however, other teams were also involved in such practices.
- Another shocking incident is related to the age of players. Most of the players playing on the opposition side were tall and it seemed as if they had shaved to look like kids. Our biggest player was smaller than the smallest player. It was a common practice of Lincolnshire Lightning. They were skilled in manipulating the age requirements of players.
- Lincolnshire Lightning was that one team who would have total Hispanic players in their best team. Their area and its neighborhood had a 2 percent Hispanic population. All they did was to rob the clubs of their Hispanic players as they were unable to Match with them financially.
The majority of the parents knew all of this but didn’t get the courage to speak up. It seems like everyone is pretending that all is well and whatever is going on is alright. It is all about convincing yourself that nothing is wrong with whatever is happening.
The main difference between JRW and other little league teams is that JRW was unfortunate and got caught while there is no evidence related to any other team involving in cheating.
We are surprised to see Evergreen Park League-VP come forward and speak up against the cheating. However, the only concern is that they might pay for this now.
Even though the officials of the JRW league knew about illegal recruitment, they didn’t say anything. It was someone from another little league who got the courage to speak up against them.
In the end, we will appreciate the efforts and the right calls that were made by the ruling body of little league international. They investigated the case and made some really good decisions. Such things are rare to be seen in youth sports.