The Atlee (Va.) junior softball team defeated the Kirkland (Wash.) softball team on Friday in the semifinals of the Little League Junior Softball World Series. After the 1-0 contest, a member of the Atlee team posted a picture to SnapChat of six teammates with their middle fingers raised with the caption “Watch out host.”
Kirkland was the host team, so it was fairly easy to figure out the target of the obscene gesture. To be clear, the tourney consists of 12 to 15-year-olds.
Little League International wasted no time in delivering swift and decisive discipline. The tournament’s governing body disqualified Atlee and inserted Kirkland into the championship game.
Adults associated with Atlee were not happy with Little League’s decision. Scott Currie, Atlee’s manager, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “It’s a travesty for these girls. Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime.”
Jamie Batten, president of Atlee Little League, released a lengthy statement where he issued an apology, but maintains everything isn’t Atlee’s fault and wants Little League International to conduct an investigation.
It appears the adults don’t get it. Giving someone ‘the finger’ or ‘flipping the bird’ has a two-word, profane meaning I won’t spell out here, but maybe someone should Google it for the Atlee adults.
Sports often distorts our view of reality and it’s important to place sports-related behavior in real-life situations and see how it goes over. What if the six kids had done this at school to a teacher or principal? What if an adult had done this to a coworker or their boss?
But…but all the kids didn’t do it. Why punish them all? The first lesson of team sports (or at least it should be) is that we win as a team and we lose as a team. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. This lesson seems to be lacking in Atlee.
Where were the parents/coaches/chaperones when six girls were broadcasting the bird from the team dugout? They didn’t find a secluded spot behind the outfield wall or in the locker room. Nope, they pulled this stunt where a responsible adult should have seen them.
They weren’t wearing Atlee uniforms, either. When a team makes it to any version of the Little League World Series, they sport uniforms with their region name across the front and a Little League patch on their arm.
Hopefully, the kids will learn the lesson the adults haven’t. If they don’t, they may become familiar with the harsher synonyms for disqualification – suspension, expulsion, and termination.
I did not include any versions of the obscene post in this article. I like my job. See how that works?