The Atlee Little League softball team was disqualified from the 2017 Junior League Softball World Series championship game over a social media post, aimed at their recently vanquished semifinal foes, showing several members of the team flipping the bird. The disqualification took place just hours before Atlee was scheduled to compete in the tournament championship.
Atlee is a community just north of Richmond, Virginia, and the Atlee Little League apparently fields one hell of a Junior softball team. Friday they took on Kirkland, Washington, the tournament’s host team, and prevailed 1-0 in a contest the Richmond Times-Dispatch described as “feisty.”
After Friday’s game, a member of the Atlee team posted a picture on Snapchat showing six members of the team showing their middle fingers. The caption made it clear the gesture was intended for the Kirkland team.
The photo was reportedly deleted by Atlee’s coach, Scott Currie, as soon as it was brought to his attention, but not before it had caught the attention of, among others, tournament organizers. Currie arranged for the offending players to apologize in person to Kirkland’s team, but that apparently did not satisfy the league’s thirst for justice:
However, on Saturday morning, the head office of the Little League World Series disqualified Atlee from the tournament, and awarded Kirkland the berth in the title game.
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.”
(If you scroll through the results for “WA District 9" (Kirkland) on the tournament’s website, you will still find a 1-0 loss in the semifinal to “Southeast” (Atlee), but the main page results show that the score has been changed to 0-0, with the host team advancing.)
“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.
“We desire to protect all youth who are recipients of inappropriate behavior both on and off the field, as we take very seriously our charge to impart the value of good sportsmanship.”
Batten said those involved in the post are requesting privacy at this time.
He continued: “These young athletes are part of Atlee Little League. As all young athletes are trained to do, they will brush themselves off after a loss, and try again - after having learned a most valuable lesson.”
And that most valuable lesson is: this never would’ve happened if the two teams had gotten together for a pizza party* Friday night.