Another controversy surrounds this years Little League World Series. Coach allegedly has team lose on purpose to keep another team out.

By Ernie DeFalco

It happens across America every year. Parents and kids in their Little League uniforms line-up and march. It’s a longstanding Opening Day parade.

The parade symbolizes the start of spring, youth, excitement, and most of all, fun. As part of the Opening Day ritual the players and coaches stand together and recite “The Little League Pledge.”

“I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best”

Much like the annual reciting of the pledge, controversy seems to be an annual occurrence as well.

Over the years there have been games thrown, kids who were older than the maximum age requirement, and kids playing on teams who were not within the legal boundaries to do so. Everyone remembers, over aged Danny Almonte, the fire balling little leaguer from the Bronx.

Just last year ESPN News Services reported that Jackie Robinson West was stripped of their U.S. Title by Little League for using players from outside their area boundaries.

The International chief executive Stephen Keener weighed in on the topic:

“For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses.”

Apparently, he does not follow the news or step on any little league fields throughout the spring and early summer where fair play and integrity are often put on hold as coaches concern themselves more with wins and losses than the children.

In yet another instance of embarrassing moments, this year’s controversy surrounds a team from South Snohomish, Washington who is participating in the Little League Softball World Series.

The controversy began when the team from South Snohomish allegedly threw a game (lost on purpose) in order to avoid playing the more formidable team from Central Iowa.

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Snohomish simply needed one win to advance. However, based on total runs scored tie breaker, Snohomish also knew if they lost by a certain amount of runs they could advance and keep the Central Iowa team out based on run differential.

So in an effort to take the easier path to the next round, The coach from Snohomish sat his best players and were easily defeated 8-0.  The Central Iowa Coach and members of his team were on hand and dismayed as they watched the events unfold.

In response to the situation the Little League investigated the incident and added a playoff game between Snohomish and the Central Iowa team which was wronged. Maybe it is justice, maybe it was karma, but Central Iowa defeated Snohomish 3-2 in that playoff game and were able to advance.

The story of course did not end there. The coach of South Snohomish, Fred Miller was quoted regarding the run ratio rule system that helps determine teams that advance is “flawed and I did what was in the best interest of my team.”

Seriously? There is so much wrong with that statement. Since when is doing the best for your team the right thing? How is asking your players to throw a game good for a team? What lessons are the kids learning?

Basically Coach Miller taught his team that the easier road is the better road. Remember, these are kids.  Kids that will forever have the memory or losing on purpose.

What about the team from Central Iowa, who also worked extremely hard?  How could Mr. Miller feel good about himself knowing that he was taking an experience away from the kids from Iowa.

Understand, this is not the fault of the children. It never is. The fault can be placed on the coaches and parents. For some reason winning has become paramount. There is a win at all costs mentality.

Maybe it is the television cameras or maybe it is the need to fill a void from their own youth. But, at some point these coaches and parents needed to remember the big picture.

The point of Little League is not to create the next greatest New York Yankee.  It is to teach the kids how to be part of a team, how to have fun playing a game, and learn about sportsmanship, and all life skills.

Jim Miller of South Snohomish had a responsibility.  A responsibility to “strive to win” and “always do my best.”  It says so right in the pledge.  In that one game, he chose to do neither.

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Administrator of New York Hockey Discussion Group, IT Professor by day, and lifelong Rangers, Mets and Jets fan by night. If he had to pick one, the Rangers would top the list. Second on the list would be the always loveable NY Mets. If he could spend all summer sitting by a pool, girly drink in hand, music playing and the Mets on TV, he would be a very happy man.