The Junior League World Series softball tournament, an annual tournament featuring the best teams of girls aged 12 to 15 from around the world, overturned the results of a semifinal game this weekend thanks to players on the winning team extending their middle fingers in a Snapchat post. The Atlee Little League team from Virginia beat the host team from Kirkland, Washington 1-0 Friday in a controversial semifinal, which saw a Kirkland player and coach ejected for stealing signals. An Atlee player then posted a team picture to Snapchat with six players extending their middle fingers and a “watch out host” caption, and the Little League International Tournament Committee then removed them from the championship game Saturday, promoting Kirkland instead (who promptly lost 7-1 to the Central region team from Poland, Ohio, in a game televised on ESPN2). Here’s the statement on their decision, via The Richmond Times-Dispatch:
In response to a request from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain issued the following statement:
“After discovering a recent inappropriate social media post involving members of Atlee Little League’s Junior League Softball tournament team, the Little League® International Tournament Committee has removed the Southeast Region from the 2017 Junior League Softball World Series for violation of Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, inappropriate use of social media, and the high standard that Little League International holds for all its participants.”
This seems like a bit far to go over a social media post, especially when it comes to promoting the losing team into that championship game instead, and especially when that losing team’s own actions were controversial. Disqualifying the whole team over six players’ actions seems perhaps too strong, too. And the controversy’s only further enhanced when it comes to the home team being the one promoted. The message from the tournament committee appears to be that it’s fine to steal signs and get ejected, but don’t you dare post anything offensive to social media, and that social media posts matter more than on-field results. That’s not the best look for this tournament.