As I began my day this Wednesday morning, the news headlines and social media was already buzzing about the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team. Not good news of their continued success as students, honor roll announcements, and stories of moving beyond homelessness…Nope. But headlines that rang out “Jackie Robinson West stripped of Little League World Series title…Little League Punishes Chicago Team…Jackie Robinson West stripped of U.S. Little League title for cheating.
My heart began to ache for these boys, who had the opportunity to experience what even some adults could only begin to imagine. The group of young men who ignited a city and gave hope to countless children and families of how far you can go when you work hard and believe in yourself. A CBS Chicago journalist put it best in his article, “Even the most feel good of feel good stories — one in which children achieved and in which their joy in doing so brought joy to millions of viewers — can’t feel good because adults suck. And that’s when these all-star teams become objective units comprised of little people for whom baseball has become a job, not a game.
I wanted to write a personal letter to the Jackie Robinson West Little League team.
Jackie Robinson West, you’re still champions. Do you know what a champion is? Someone who commits an act of the following: extreme courage, extreme awesomeness; one who is worthy of positive recognition for such an act (Urban Dictionary). There isn’t anywhere in that definition or any explanation I’ve found that states a champion is someone who has received an award, ring, title, or trophy. The good thing about being a champion is that NO ONE can take it away from you, it is something that reigns deep inside of you. NO ONE can take away the hard work you put in practice after practice and game after game. NO ONE can take away the memories you had to travel from state to state with your families and teammates and abroad. NO ONE can take away the celebration you have in your heart and experienced in front of thousands of Chicagoans in your hometown. NO ONE can take away your visit to the White House and the opportunity to meet and be honored by the President of the United States of America. NO ONE can take away the memories from your trip to Disney World and the countless fun you had. NO ONE can take away when the Cubs wore your jerseys during their practice and you sat in the dugout.They may have taken away the title and the trophy, but don’t allow them to take away your dream, your will, and your fight for you’re still champions. Still our Champions!
“Declare yourself a champion in the morning for you conquered many unseen and evident life battles through your years; at night declare it again for the many more battles you lived through in that day.”
― Wayne Chirisa