Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is broadcaster Stephen A. Smith the ‘voice of reason’ standing up for our freedom to express ourselves?

Remember the Jackie Robinson West youth baseball program on the city’s South Side? They’re the ones who nearly won the Little League World Series a couple of years ago – only to have their accomplishment officially erased from the Little League Baseball record books.

SMITH: Voice of reason?
League officials contend their rules were violated and that the Morgan Park neighborhood-based Jackie Robinson West program put its team together from talented youth across the South Side and surrounding suburbs – rather than just their respective neighborhood.

JACKIE ROBINSON OFFICIALS have finally filed their lawsuit against Little League Baseball, contending the league acted unfairly to taint the on-field accomplishments of those 12-year-olds who brought international glory to Chicago back in 2014.

But what also is interesting is that the lawsuit also includes ESPN and one of its announcers – in the form of Stephen A. Smith.

For those of you who aren’t sports junkies compelled to watch the blatherings of the many people who offer their opinions on ESPN, Smith is one who has a particular record of irritating people.

I’m sure he’ll say he just speaks his mind and says what he believes to be true. Others say he’s just a donkey (insert more crude term here) who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

IT SEEMS THE Jackie Robinson West officials take Smith more seriously than I do. I rarely think anyone’s commentary – other than my own – is worth anything. And even my own is only worth the price (gratis) you had to pay in order to read it!

But because his opinion was carried forth on ESPN and all the sports nerds of our society were watching (except for those who might have been tuned into a Fox Sports channel at the time), the local officials want to believe they’re forevermore tainted.

How many 'cheaters' wind up with an Oval Office appearance?
As for the offensive comment that has local officials upset, it seems Smith said it bothers him that a baseball program named for Jackie Robinson would play loose with the rules concerning eligibility and residency.

Which if you think about it, isn’t an outrageous thought at all. Even if you believe, as I do, that much of the outrage concerning the Jackie Robinson West residency issue is a lot of sour grapes from people who couldn’t beat the ball club on the playing field.

THE MODERN-DAY family structure isn’t the same as it was back when Little League programs became organized some 80 years ago. There are families with split residences – with one parent living in the area proper and the other does not.

But I’m not about to get into trying to justify the way the Jackie Robinson West program operates – other than to say I am aware it is a highly-structured program that attracts young people from across the area who want to play baseball.

And a part of me does wonder if the people who object to Jackie Robinson West’s accomplishment are really bothered by the fact it is an all-black organization in a Little League that all-too-often is dominated by white people?

I’ve already seen some reports about the lawsuit saying that it is the portion against Stephen A. Smith that will draw public attention and news coverage.

WHAT IF IT is capable that Jackie Robinson West can do what many people in sports have tried to do and failed – that is, put a gag of sorts on Smith’s mouth!

The simple fact is that he’s a blowhard who spouts off on anything and everything, and for his good fortune has found someone willing to pay him to do so. If anything, facing a lawsuit may wind up creating friends for Smith of all the people who want to rant about “those cheatin’ black kids from Chicago.”

Personally, I don’t think much will become of their lawsuit. Particularly if it turns Stephen A. Smith into the voice of reason whom we all stand up for to protect the concept of freedom of expression.


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