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Baseball Fri Feb 13 2015

Reactions to the Jackie Robinson West Controversy

The Jackie Robinson West story had many facets when the Chicago-based, all African-American youth baseball team rolled through the Little League World Series to a United States Championship last summer.

And, after the last few days, the club's story has gotten even more frenetic. JRW was stripped of its title on Wednesday.

The news hits home for a lot of people. JRW encompasses many talking points, including the issues and inflated importance of youth sports; the lack of African-Americans in baseball; the chasm between the rich and poor; penalties and the enforcement of rules; and the Chicago vs. everyone mentality. Many opinions have been offered, and here is a sampling of them.

• The story was originally broke by Mark Konkol of DNAinfo in December. Really, it only took a few simple internet searches on players' hometowns to get the ball rolling.

• Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago feels that the punishment was too harsh for the crime, and that the JRW players shouldn't have to pay for what adults have done.

• The Sun-Times's Rick Telander says that adults have instilled a win-at-all-costs mentality into children's sports.

• The Tribune's Rex Huppke writes that the players shouldn't be coddled: they should know the adults cheated and take a lesson from it. His colleague David Haugh says shame on everyone.

• This scandal spoils what was a really nice feel-good story for many people, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.

• Former MLB pitcher and South Holland Little Leaguer Mark Mulder tweeted that JRW has always pulled these types of shenanigans.

• For The Win's Nina Mandell says that Little League should put in better structures to ensure eligibility, in part by relying less on volunteers in administrator roles (or, by paying them).

• Chicago Magazine named JRW as Chicagoans of the Year (oof) in 2014, and the publication is a little bummed about what has happened since.

• It has to be asked: What happens to the $200,000 the team raised in the aftermath of the title run?

• Edge of Sports's Dave Zirin claims that gentrification can be to blame for scrambling baseball in urban areas.

• Though the Mountain Ridge team from Nevada is the new US champions, the title is a hollow one. The Nevada team's manager says the ordeal is a teachable moment.

• Adults in positions of power within JRW used kids for their own gain. Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago says that the kids are also being used as pawns in race and political discussions.

• John Kass from the Tribune writes that JRW is tied into the city's politics more than they should be.

• Freddie Taylor at Urban Intellectuals feels that JRW should be punished, in part by playing the reverse race card. If a white team did exactly what JRW did, and a black team finished second to the cheating team, the outcry would be much different right now.

• Race has been discussed in other places too, in some cases very ridiculously.

• Some writers have made the inevitable comparisons to Inflate-gate and the Ferguson hullabaloo.

• Friend of Gapers Block and Red Eye writer Evan F. Moore sends his heart out to the JRW players.

• Big Cat from Barstool Sports Chicago writes that the kids from JRW will still have all the memories from a fantastic summer.

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