A girls' softball team was disqualified from the Junior League World Series hours before the championship game due to an "inappropriate" post on social media.
On Aug. 4, Atlee Little League won its semifinal game against a team from Kirkland, Washington, by a score of 1-0. After the game, an Atlee player uploaded an image to Snapchat that showed six teammates flipping off the camera.
The photo's caption indicated that the middle fingers were directed at the team they had just defeated, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The girls in the league are all between 12 and 15 years old.
When Atlee manager Scott Currie got wind of the post, he told the girls to take it down and apologize in person to the Kirkland team, which they did later that night.
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All seemed to be forgiven until the following morning, when officials disqualified Atlee from the tournament and gave its spot in the championship game to Kirkland.
Little League International spokesman Kevin Fountain responded to an inquiry by the Richmond Times-Dispatch with a 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.
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Currie criticized the decision as too extreme.
"It's a travesty for these girls," he said. "Yes, they screwed up, but I don't think the punishment fit the crime."
"All that these girls had worked for all summer long had just been taken away because one little lapse in judgment," Currie told WRIC, adding, "I do think it was harsh. They didn't take a whole lot of time to investigate to see what else happened."
In a statement, Atlee Little League President Jamie Batten said his team will put the incident down to experience.
"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 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."
He added: "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."