CHICAGO (CBS) — Not surprisingly, Little League International’s decision to strip Jackie Robinson West of their national title, due to violations of residency rules, has stirred up a hornet’s nest, prompting reaction from all corners. Here is just a handful of the responses:
President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest:
“The president invited the Jackie Robinson West team to the White House to celebrate the accomplishments of those young men and the performance that they, the strong performance they delivered on a pretty large stage for 12-year olds.
“The president is proud of the way that they represented their city and they represented the country. The fact is, is some dirty dealing by adults does not take anything away from the accomplishments of those young men.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
“These remarkable boys brought our entire city together and reminded all Chicagoans how important it is to support our children. They created memories that will last a lifetime and nothing will take that away, and they showed the nation their character both on and off the field. The city remains united in its support of these great children and in our hearts, they will always be champions in Chicago.”
Mayoral candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia:
“I’m sad to see the young athletes of Jackie Robinson West punished so harshly. The kids played their hearts out and did nothing wrong.”
Mayoral candidate and 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti:
“As a former little league player from Chicago’s south side myself, I was saddened to learn the news today of the JRW title. Those young men demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship and teamwork and are still fine examples for other young people to follow. They should hold their heads high. It is unfortunate that the grownups didn’t follow directions and now the team members are paying the price. In that, there is a lesson for all of us to play fair and follow the rules.”
Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson said he would present a special Black History Month trophy to the team:
“It’s a sad day when kids have to pay the price for adults undermining the rules of fair play,” said Wilson. “Children are more important than rules. The Jackie Robinson kids earned their title with talent and grace.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson, on behalf of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition:
“We believe this action by the Little League is untimely and inappropriate. It should not take six months after a team has played a championship game to determine eligibility to play the game in the first place. Secondly, children in Las Vegas and their coach should not want to accept a championship they did not earn. Finally, what are the boundaries used by players from Korea and Taiwan? Is this about boundaries or race? Rainbow PUSH Coalition will continue to investigate and review all aspects of this matter.”
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was furious with the decision:
“I do not respect the decision of Little League International because the officials have not respected the ethical and emotional well-being of the children involved in this matter. The young men of Jackie Robinson West brought their talent, skills, smarts and hearts to the playing field and captivated a nation by securing a national championship for themselves and our city,” Lewis said.
“That adult Little League officials failed to thoroughly investigate allegations in a timely manner, and therefore allowed these boys to play throughout the season, even as they continued to advance to the World Series, is reprehensible. To strip Jackie Robinson West of its title nearly six months after securing the win tarnishes the efforts of our children who have dodged bullets, school closings and reductions in their school athletic programs in order to compete and win on the playing field.
“I stand with parents, youth, teachers and community members who are outraged by this Black History month smack in the face by people with no regard for the young lives impacted by this. The boys are now being labeled and humiliated as “cheats” and are being made scapegoats due to the folly of grown men.
“I remain proud of our students’ securing its placed in history as the first all-African American Little League team to win the coveted Little League national championship. It is not lost on my community that they are named for a sports and civil rights icon that also had to break down barriers of racial hatred, segregation, and the 1 percent’s total disregard for his right to exist as a human being.
“Jackie Robinson West should retain its title, be issued an apology, and every player should receive full-ride scholarships for college sponsored by the people who have humiliated these boys, their families and their community.”