There's nothing good about the news that Jackie Robinson West Little League has been stripped of its U.S. championship after the team was found to have used players from outside of its designated boundaries.
This story is important, though, for one significant reason: It shines light on the festering cancer that has become youth sports in this country.
I'm not talking about the recreational stuff. There are issues there, too, no doubt, but travel sports has come to represent all that is ugly about adults in this country.
There are bad people involved in this industry. I know because I've been there and witnessed some abhorrent behavior first-hand.
Not everyone is bad, of course. In fact, most operate clean and are in it for the right reasons. But there are enough obnoxious jerks involved to sully the entire thing, in my view.
These people - and I use that term loosely - flagrantly exhibit win-at-all-cost attitudes and bear no mind to rules and regulations. It's their goal, their lot in life, to live vicariously through the children they purport to care about, most times to cover up for their own athletic failings or resentments.
I've coached right alongside some of these people and seen them operate through my role as a reporter. Make no mistake about it, the fools in Chicago who committed these acts are not alone, not even close. There are thousands more just like them, and people trust their kids to them every single day. What are the kids coached by these vermin actually learning? Nothing good, I assure you.
Forget bending the rules. They'll shatter them with no regard for who it affects because the only thing they really care about is getting that "W" and gaining their perceived glory.
If all this sounds harsh, good. If we take nothing from the JRW situation, let's at least shine the light as bright as we possibly can on these people and get them out of youth sports and away from our youth.
Believe me when I say that the stakes are high. As you'd probably guess, I'm a huge proponent of sports. I think the lessons that can be gleaned from pariticpation in them are invaluable.
But in order to achieve the maximum possible effect, those in charge of teaching the game need to be of the highest quality possible. The hours coaches spend with kids are crucial during these formative years. In a person's life, very often these are make or break years, and it should be important to surround children with people who genuinely have their best interest in heart.
Too often, it's the other way. The JRW coaches and anyone else associated with this weren't thinking of the kids. If they say that they were, then they're lying.
They wanted to be on ESPN and get in the national spotlight for their own perverse sense of self-satisfaction.
The kids were just a means to an end. What a pity.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.