(This article was first published by Newsmax.)
There’s good news and bad. The bad is that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is awarding championship rings to his city’s Jackie Robinson West Little League team, despite the glaring fact that they lost their title for cheating.
The good news is that the unemployment rate will surely plummet. Since cheaters apparently prosper, and rule-breaking should have no bearing on winning, history will have to be re-written. Legal petitions need to be filed, public relations campaigns waged, — history books revised. If a challenger dare step up to the plate, the defense will be hurling the racist label quicker than a fastball.
Lance Armstrong’s testicular fortitude while using steroids makes him deserving of his forfeited titles.
Pop group Milli Vanilli is entitled to be in sync with other cheaters, and should have their stripped Grammy reinstated.
Break the bank if need be, but Bernie Madoff should be freed, and his Ponzi-scheme money restored.
Bill Clinton’s impeachment should go up in smoke, as he deserves another crack in the Oval Office.
Coming full circle, we need to lift the lifetime bans on Shoeless Joe Jackson and his 7 other Chicago White Sox teammates.
Awarding championship rings and demanding that Little League reverse its decision sets a horrendous example for America’s youth. Whatever the reason for defending the indefensible — perceived political gain ("they are heroes," says Jesse Jackson) sheer ignorance, or a sense of entitlement (they "earned it," says a parent) — those backing the team are making fools of themselves and doing an immense disservice to the players.
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Enough of the warped mentality that the players are being victimized and, since they did nothing wrong, deserve their championship. Not true.
Rather than being innocent, they are right in the middle of the storm. It is inconceivable that players at that level didn’t know that certain teammates lived outside the designated boundaries. These kids know each other and the rules, as much as coaches. That means they looked the other way in order to win, with cheating an acceptable means to an end.
Cheating has consequences, no matter what age. They must live with that. So what that the team worked hard and sacrificed? True, but irrelevant. Bernie Madoff and Lance Armstrong worked hard — so what? That doesn’t make their achievements honorable, or legal.
Clearly, coaches and parents bear much more responsibility. The players are a product of their environment, with parents either reliving their glory years of youth sports, or, more likely, making up for the glory they never had.
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By actively engaging in rule-breaking, their message is that it’s okay to cheat. It won’t stop at Little League, but will make its way to school, home, family, and job. The irony is the people who fostered an environment of fraud will be the same ones asking "how could this happen?" when their children get expelled, divorced, or arrested.
When are we going to stop using race as the go-to answer for everything? Every time black leaders or parents play the race card, they’re not only angering others, but doing a disservice to their own, sending the unmistakable message they’re different; that separate rules should apply to them. Resentment explodes, the racial divide widens, and the dream of a colorblind society slips further away.
Racism has absolutely nothing to do with this situation. Because it’s been injected, the message to players is that bigotry — not cheating — is the reason they lost their title. How can we possibly expect them to grow into productive citizens when we are teaching all the wrong lessons?
Where does it end? Should teams use players over the age of eligibility? How about banned bats? Corked balls? If leaders absolve cheaters, why have rules? All teams will break them because everybody does it. That’s not a defense in the court of public opinion, nor a court of law.
Where are the presidential candidates? Why aren’t they using their bully pulpits to put the apologists in their places, slam the race-mongers, imparting a vision for an America free of corruption?
Because they’re afraid to take a stand on anything controversial, not understanding that such courage is exactly what most Americans, of all races and political affiliations, are seeking.
American playwright Terrence McNally said it best, "Cheating is not the American way. It is small, while we are large. It is cheap, while we are richly endowed. It is destructive, while we are creative. It is doomed to fail, while our gifts and responsibilities call us to achieve. It sabotages trust and weakens the bonds of spirit and humanity, without which we perish."
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Let’s turn the Jackie Robinson error into a home run by showing that honor should always trump deceit.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.