Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Hell Yeah"

JRW squad being feted by city of Chicago along South Michigan Avenue

The Jackie Robinson West 
whistleblower says he'd do it again

By David Mendell
June 24, 2015

Stepping from a baseball dugout after his pre-adolescent players had cleared it of their bats, mitts and empty Gatorade bottles, coach Chris Janes reached for a Marlboro. He lit it and cupped it in his left hand, concealing the adult addiction from the few straggling youth ballplayers heading for their parents’ cars.

It was mid-May, and the past six months had been chaotic, unsettling and somewhat mystifying for
the suburban Chicago father of four sons. But to anyone who knows Chris Janes — although, in all honesty, very few people know him well — his next words would be unsurprising, for Janes is not a man who backs off his core beliefs, or backs down from a fight.

“Yes, I’d do it all over again,” he said, taking a drag on the cigarette. “I thought it was the right
Chris Janes
thing to do then. I still think it was the right thing. Even after everything that’s happened, the death threats and all that, I believe it was the right thing.”

Janes has played many different roles in life: eldest sibling of six, high school and college quarterback, first in his family to attend college (at a small school in suburban Chicago then called the College of St. Francis), husband, father, youth sports coach. But to the general public of Chicago, he’ll forever be regarded as the rival youth baseball coach who blew the whistle on Jackie Robinson West. His formal complaint to Little League International in Williamsport, Pa., eventually caused the vaunted South Side team to be stripped of its much-heralded 2014 Little League national title. Little League officials in Williamsport ruled that JRW directors fielded ineligible players and later falsified league boundary maps to conceal their actions. Mountain Ridge from Las Vegas, which lost to JRW in the national finals, became the U.S. champions.

As one might imagine, leveling allegations of cheating against the beloved hometown champs — no less, a squad of African-American youngsters presumably from some of the poorest neighborhoods of this Midwestern metropolis — did not endear him to fellow Chicagoans. After all, the boys were feted with a major downtown celebration that drew tens of thousands of adoring fans. Chicago magazine named them “Chicagoans of the Year” and Mayor Rahm Emanuel dubbed them “the pride of Chicago.” For weeks last summer, JRW was a national feel-good story, and President Obama invited the team to the White House. So among the cascade of epithets hurled Janes’ direction on social media: “lowest of the low,” “super hater” and “racist devil.” “Shame on you #ChrisJanes you really are a loser!” And that was only the beginning of the largely anonymous hate spewed his way.

Indeed, when Janes decided to file the complaint last fall, he had little idea that he was walking himself into something far larger than a dispute over baseball played among 12-year-old boys. In a country still riven by racial turmoil, he was stepping into a virtual minefield of social and cultural discontent. His life hasn’t been the same since.

Full story here

No comments: