One wrong social media move meant the end of their championship run
A girls’ softball team made up of kids ages 12-14 learned a very hard lesson about the permanence of social media when a Snapchat post resulted in their disqualification from the Junior League World Series.
This story is a great example to use when explaining to kids and teens that the internet is forever.
The Atlee junior league softball team from Mechanicsville, Virginia were disqualified this past Saturday from the championship game at the Junior League World Series in Kirkland, Washington after this photo was posted to Snapchat by one of the Atlee players.
It was before their game on Friday against the Kirkland team that one of the Atlee team members Snapped a photo of six of their players sticking up their middle fingers along with the caption, “Watch out host,” which was directed at the team they were about to play. Atlee won the semifinal game 1-0 after the opposing team cheated, resulting in the ejection of two players and one coach for signal stealing. The Atlee team and their coach apologized to Kirkland for their social media misstep, but that wasn’t the end of it.
According to the Richard Times-Dispatch, the head office of the Little League World Series decided to disqualify the entire Atlee team just hours before Saturday’s televised game as a result of the Snapchat post. In a statement to the paper, Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain said:
“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.”
Atlee manager Scott Currie, who made the girls delete the post and arranged for his team to apologize to their rivals, disagreed with the League’s decision. “It’s a travesty for these girls,” he said. “Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime.”
Currie doesn’t know what rule the League invoked when disqualifying the girls, as the organization’s rules state that coaches should handle discipline, which they claim to have done by having the Atlee girls apologize.
There’s quite a stir surrounding the disqualification with Atlee coach Chris Mardigian saying the girls sent the Snap in retaliation for the Kirkland team treating some of their team members poorly, but as far as the takeaway for teens and their parents?
The internet is forever.
Plenty of us probably did things this stupid as kids and teens. The only difference is they weren’t sent, saved, screenshot or preserved in any way. Junior high and high school kids from every generation do regrettable things. But in the age of social media, they need to be far more careful, or risk serious consequences.
Whether the Atlee team’s middle finger mishap was bad sportsmanship or just teen athletes responding to something that happened on the field is neither here nor there. The fact is, the Little League World Series had to respond appropriately and disqualify a team that directed a vulgar photo at their opponent. With proof of the transgression, they had to make sure the girls were punished. Which means our children need to understand the very real implications of images posted to social media.
As parents, this means we need to teach teens that whatever they do online should be considered visible to anyone. Nothing’s private once it’s on the internet and it’s crucial for kids to understand that fact. Is it unfair that they have to be so much more careful than we ever were? Probably. But it doesn’t matter — this is the world we live in now. And as far as this team losing out on a hard-won opportunity? It could’ve been far worse, and we’re willing to bet they’ll never make a mistake like this again.
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