Little League scandal reflects growing corruption in sports

Little League scandal reflects growing corruption in sports 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnBoxWhy am I not surprised that Little League Baseball is tainted with the same kind of corruption that taints everything else in professional American sports?

Worse is the phoniness of people who are supposed to be role models who are exploiting the controversy for personal political gain.

Where is the outrage over the lesson that the Jackie Robinson West little league team is teaching our young people? That it’s OK to cheat as long as you don’t get caught?

It makes me sick and it should make everyone sick. But it shouldn’t surprise us. What surprises me is that public leaders like Rahm Emanuel, who so badly needs to repair his damaged public image as a failed Chicago mayor, is protesting the decision by Little League Baseball to strip the Jackie Robinson West Little League team of their U.S. Championship. He is demanding that the title be reinstated.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and the Rev. Michael Plfeger, both of whom have never seen a controversy they can’t insert themselves into for personal political gain, denounced Evergreen Park Little league Coach Chris Janes for blowing the whistle on the Jackie Robinson West Little League’s fraud.

little league baseball photo

Little League Baseball scene Photo by Edwin Martinez1

Janes complained to everyone about the cheating for months, but no one would listen. He wrote letters to the Little League International charging the JRW team stacked its roster with ringers from outside its district. The public ignored him. Chicago’s leaders ignored him. The news media ignored him, until the Little League couldn’t ignore the truth.

In my book, Chris Janes is a hero. He’s the only person who cares about the most important part of sports. It’s called “sportsmanship.” It’s called honesty. It’s called not cheating.

Cheating seems to be the newest sports statistic. It deserves its own category along with batting averages, stolen bases and home runs.

Just two weeks ago, it was the New England Patriots football team winning the play-offs by deflating its footballs to make them easier to catch. It doesn’t seem like anyone cares. We care more about protecting the integrity of the Super Bowl, which long ago lost its virginity to advertising commercialization and profits.

The list of cheating in sports is growing at super speed.

I blame it on sports journalism. The mainstream news media has serious problems, but the worst are sports reporters. They don’t write news. They write opinions and call it news. They champion athletes they love, bash those they hate, and decide who gets canonized and who gets dumped. They close their eyes to cheating, until it can’t be hidden.

As the father of a young boy, I am saddened by the failure of our leaders to stand up for honesty, fairness and sports ethics. Defending the cheaters sends the wrong message to young kids all over the country who think they can win in sports by working hard, training hard, and by following the rules. By being good sportsmen and women.

Long ago my dad once told me that winning is NOT the most important thing in life. I want my son to know it’s about how you play the game. It’s about being honest, fair and doing your best.

These days, it seems like all anyone cares about is winning, and how to turn that into financial profit and personal prestige.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Reach him at [email protected])

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate and his column is feature every Sunday in the Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia. He has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News on several Chicagoland blogs including the OrlandParker.com and SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com. Email him at: [email protected]
  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com admin

    Dear Mr. Hanania:

    I just read your article about the Little League scandal and wanted to thank you.

    I am a 64 year old woman who rarely watches sports anymore….mostly for the reasons you state.

    As more and more cheating was accepted, or even lauded…and, wives and girlfriends got abused and everyone looked the other way, unless, of course we couldn’t because there was video, I suddenly realized that my hated 9th grade Latin teacher was just trying to enlighten me to the facts of life when she said, “the sin is not in doing something, but in getting caught.”

    I didn’t want to believe her because I always played hard, BUT always fairly…I only felt it worth the win IF and only IF I had won it fairly. I tried to believe that everyone else agreed with me…or least those worth anything. Now, it almost appears that you will be laughed at if you don’t cheat.

    I wish I could say I am surprised by MR. Jackson’s demanding the JRW being given back its trophy (he is NO reverend in my eyes), but, then he has proven that he too cheats. I guess I am only surprised that Al Sharpton didn’t rush in too.

    Why don’t more people realize that is these kinds of issues that are hurting our society, and making our children lose any moral compass they had or might have had.

    My only wish at this point is for someone of stature to stand up and tell Mr. Jackson to shut up, BUT to first give the Las Vegas team an apology for even suggesting they not accept their WELL-deserved and hard-won victory.

    And, I am really tired of him turning everything into racism…it makes real racism look trivial and unimportant. Martin Luther King would be appalled that Mr. Jackson is demanding special treatment of these fine young men and NOT equality.

    BH
    Business Program Counselor
    West Chester University
    West Chester, PA

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com admin

    Congratulations for your forthright and in biased perspective on this unfortunate situation. You are spot on with your comments and I agree 100%.
    Excellent column. Should be required reading for anyone on either side of this issue.
    Mike Sutko

    MNS
    Travel Counselor

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com admin

    Great column.
    You hit the nail on the head, now if Jackson, Pfleger and Emanuel could stop their silliness, they’re hurting the kids, vs the adults in this. Maybe you could send them a copy?
    Barbara O

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com admin

    Dear Mr. Hanania,
    You wrote about your disgust with the JRW rule breaking - and the wider implications for sports. Here’s something to chew on. The Little League World Series itself is an instrument of the same corruption you decry.

    Think about it. This is supposed to be a game for some 12 year olds to have fun. But the LLWS involves TV cameras, sponsors, and BIG money. For the adults involved, there’s publicity, pride, and prestige. There’s a tremendous incentive to cheat because the winners get headlines and the losers go back to obscure lives in Podunkville. There’s no surprise in JRW cheating - the surprise would be if a high percentage of other teams weren’t also cheating but didn’t get exposed because they lost or because nobody had the money or inclination to investigate. This is like the college playoff system that encourages all the SEC teams to recruit dumb jocks who couldn’t pass algebra but can play football.

    The way I see it, if you don’t like the kind of cheating that JRW did, get rid of the Little League World Series altogether. Who needs it? The games aren’t played for fun; they ratchet up the pressure exponentially. It’s not as if these kids are going to play professionally. The championships should be limited to a city or county with all kids playing regardless of skills. That would actually be for fun.

    TR

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Dear Mr. Hanania,
    You wrote about your disgust with the JRW rule breaking – and the wider implications for sports. Here’s something to chew on. The Little League World Series itself is an instrument of the same corruption you decry.

    Think about it. This is supposed to be a game for some 12 year olds to have fun. But the LLWS involves TV cameras, sponsors, and BIG money. For the adults involved, there’s publicity, pride, and prestige. There’s a tremendous incentive to cheat because the winners get headlines and the losers go back to obscure lives in Podunkville. There’s no surprise in JRW cheating – the surprise would be if a high percentage of other teams weren’t also cheating but didn’t get exposed because they lost or because nobody had the money or inclination to investigate. This is like the college playoff system that encourages all the SEC teams to recruit dumb jocks who couldn’t pass algebra but can play football.

    The way I see it, if you don’t like the kind of cheating that JRW did, get rid of the Little League World Series altogether. Who needs it? The games aren’t played for fun; they ratchet up the pressure exponentially. It’s not as if these kids are going to play professionally. The championships should be limited to a city or county with all kids playing regardless of skills. That would actually be for fun.

    TR

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Great column.
    You hit the nail on the head, now if Jackson, Pfleger and Emanuel could stop their silliness, they’re hurting the kids, vs the adults in this. Maybe you could send them a copy?
    Barbara O

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Congratulations for your forthright and in biased perspective on this unfortunate situation. You are spot on with your comments and I agree 100%.
    Excellent column. Should be required reading for anyone on either side of this issue.
    Mike Sutko

    MNS
    Travel Counselor

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Dear Mr. Hanania:

    I just read your article about the Little League scandal and wanted to thank you.

    I am a 64 year old woman who rarely watches sports anymore….mostly for the reasons you state.

    As more and more cheating was accepted, or even lauded…and, wives and girlfriends got abused and everyone looked the other way, unless, of course we couldn’t because there was video, I suddenly realized that my hated 9th grade Latin teacher was just trying to enlighten me to the facts of life when she said, “the sin is not in doing something, but in getting caught.”

    I didn’t want to believe her because I always played hard, BUT always fairly…I only felt it worth the win IF and only IF I had won it fairly. I tried to believe that everyone else agreed with me…or least those worth anything. Now, it almost appears that you will be laughed at if you don’t cheat.

    I wish I could say I am surprised by MR. Jackson’s demanding the JRW being given back its trophy (he is NO reverend in my eyes), but, then he has proven that he too cheats. I guess I am only surprised that Al Sharpton didn’t rush in too.

    Why don’t more people realize that is these kinds of issues that are hurting our society, and making our children lose any moral compass they had or might have had.

    My only wish at this point is for someone of stature to stand up and tell Mr. Jackson to shut up, BUT to first give the Las Vegas team an apology for even suggesting they not accept their WELL-deserved and hard-won victory.

    And, I am really tired of him turning everything into racism…it makes real racism look trivial and unimportant. Martin Luther King would be appalled that Mr. Jackson is demanding special treatment of these fine young men and NOT equality.

    BH
    Business Program Counselor
    West Chester University
    West Chester, PA

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Mr. Hanania,

    Thanks for your article on the JRW adult cheating scandal. We all feel for the players. I have no compassion for the adults that took part in the boundary fudging. I also am tired of Rev. Pfleger and Rev. Jackson calling everything racial. They are teaching the opposite of what we want our young people to learn. Thanks for bringing it up. I see this win at all costs in some of the soccer coaches that my grandson plays for. My son who coaches refuses to cherry pick the teams. His motto is everyone plays good band or indifferent. Know what? It makes for a better team in the end.

    CW Chicago

  • http://www.IllinoisNewsNetwork.com/ Ray Hanania

    From a reader:

    Just read your column on the Jackie Robinson Little League fiasco. I have to say that I could not have said it better myself about how disconcerting the whole situation is. As you say, its about being honest, fair, and doing your best.

    These social activist frauds implying covertly and overtly that the motives to punish JRW are purely racial, further perpetuates the notion that anything that touches the black community negatively is engendered via the evil deeds of the majority. Jackson and Pfleger are primary “mouthpieces” of that attitude.

    Anyhow, thanks for writing a “clear headed” article on this sad fiasco.

    TK, Evergreen Park, IL.