Little League softball team disqualified over Snapchat post

How does a team lose a game before it even starts, win it, and then lose it again?

A Little League softball team based in Atlee, Virginia, a suburb of Richmond, answered that riddle over the weekend, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports. Prior to a semifinal matchup with a team from Kirkland, WA in the Junior League Softball World Series, an event playing host to the worldwide best 12-15 year-old girls teams, some members of the Atlee team released a Snapchat post in which they displayed their middle fingers. The post’s caption indicated the gesture was directed toward the Kirkland team.

The Atlee team prevailed by a score of 1-0 in the semifinal game, from which two members of the Kirkland team were ejected for stealing signs.

Hours before Atlee was scheduled to take the field Saturday for their championship matchup against a team based out of Poland, Ohio, the head office of the Little League World Series issued a ruling disqualifying Atlee from the game. Kirkland took the field instead.

Atlee manager Scott Currie, who had the post deleted as soon as it was brought to his attention, and arranged for his team to apologize to Kirkland in person, did not quite understand which rules his team had broken.

“We thought we had tried to do the right thing and make this thing right,” said Currie, per the Richmond Times Dispatch. “They didn’t give us a chance to defend ourselves, didn’t do any investigation whatsoever of the situation.”

“It’s a travesty for these girls,” he added, referencing the decision. “Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime.”

Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain said the team had breached “Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct [and] inappropriate use of social media,” and had fallen short of “the high standard that Little League International holds for all its participants.”

In a statement following the incident, Jamie Batten, the president of Atlee Little League, made it clear he did not condone the team’s actions, but also called on the league to conduct a more thorough investigation into the matter.

“We are deeply disappointed this social media post did not reflect the core values of Little League International or Atlee Little League,” he wrote. “We expect Little League International will take the time to fully investigate the matter, and we will comply with this investigation by providing all information about unpleasant interactions including the social media post and the time leading up to that event – not all of which were on the part of those on the Atlee softball team.

The team received a warm welcome when it returned home Sunday, according to the aforementioned Richmond paper. A crowd of people in the terminal at Richmond International Airport held signs bearing messages like “All Together Love Embrace Encourage” and “You are all stars to us.”

“I think it’s amazing,” said Matt Pastore, whose daughter plays on the team. “It shows the community and the parents we have. … I know it’s not all positive, but it’s overwhelming the support we had here today and that’s part of the healing process.”

Pastore continued on to call the situation both “devastating” and an “emotional roller-coaster.” An entire season of work unraveled with one push of a button.

“They made a wrong decision. It was an emotional decision in the heat of the moment,” Currie said, “[but] this one moment in time doesn’t define this community or these kids.”

The championship game, which Kirkland, incidentally, lost by a score of 7-1, was slated to be nationally televised, and the story regarding the disqualification has itself reached a national audience through such outlets as The Washington Post and ESPN.

“It’s unfortunate we had to go through this experience in front of the world,”  said Chris Mardigan, who is one of three coaches for Atlee.

Pastore added that the national attention caused anxiety for his daughter and her teammates, who wondered how the community would see them. Currie indicated that the players had been hurt by some of the things said about them online. Batten told the Times-Dispatch Friday that “those involved in the post [were] requesting privacy.”

Batten indicated that he was trying to leverage the experience as a teaching moment. “As all young athletes are trained to do,” he said, “they [the Atlee team] will brush themselves off after a loss, and try again – after having learned a most valuable lesson.”

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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