Was stripping Jackie Robinson West of its title a PR misstep for Little League?

Officials made it clear that coaches, not the players, were to blame, but it was still the kids that lost their title.

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There was a victory parade down Michigan Avenue.

Anyone who has spent time in Chicago knows what a huge deal that is, especially for a group of 12- and 13-year-old Little Leaguers. The initial shock for some has worn off, and reality has set in that the Jackie Robinson West team that captivated Chicago’s attention during their historic championship run has been stripped of its title.

All that remains are questions of how this was allowed to happen.

Many are blaming—and perhaps rightfully so—the coaches who stretched the team’s residency boundaries to accommodate star players. This practice is against Little League rules. Even though the blame falls heavily on the coaches’ shoulders, Little League is facing a major PR problem.

Little League International CEO Stephen Keener was on damage control Wednesday. In a broadcast phone interview with ESPN, he called the investigation leading up to the ruling an “excruciating, painful review.”

“What’s troubling here is the leadership that’s required to sign off on any changes like that did so knowing it was wrong,” he said, referring to the organizational failures that allowed the breach to occur.

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