A girls softball team from Virginia was disqualified from the Junior League World Series in Kirkland, Washington over the weekend after several members of the team taunted the tournament’s host team by posting a photo of them giving the middle finger on Snapchat.
According to the Washington Post, the Atlee junior league softball team—which hails from Mechanicsville, Virginia and features girls ranging in age from 12 to 14—was removed from the tournament on Saturday, just one day after the Snapchat photo in question surfaced. In the photo, Atlee players could be seen sticking their middle fingers up alongside the caption, "watch out host."
Atlee manager Scott Cuttie discovered the Snapchat post shortly after it was put up following his team’s 1-0 win against the Kirkland team on Friday. He forced his team to take it down and made his players personally apologize to Kirkland for what they had done.
But Little League spokesman Kevin Fountain reacted to the post quickly, referring to it as "inappropriate" in a statement released to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Junior League World Series organizers reacted quickly as well, making the decision to disqualify Atlee from the tournament and send Kirkland through to the championship game in their place.
That decision didn’t sit well with Currie, who took issue with how those in charge chose to handle the situation. "It’s a travesty for these girls," he said. "Yes, they screwed up, but I don’t think the punishment fit the crime."
The entire Atlee organization also released a statement and, after apologizing for what took place, they asked for Little League International to conduct a more thorough investigation into what led up to the Atlee players putting up their Snapchat post. The team seemed to suggest that unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of Kirkland players led to the Atlee players responding to them on Snapchat. The statement said:
"We are very sorry for the social media post resulting in the disqualification of our softball team contending for the 2017 world championship. Atlee Little League is an organization made up entirely of volunteers with a proven track record of advancing our standards of sportsmanship in youth sports. We are deeply disappointed this social media post did not reflect the core values of Little League International or Atlee Little League.
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 of 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. It is important to remember the young women athletes involved in this unfortunate event are minors who are part of the fabric of this community that supported them and which they were honored to represent.
Those involved feel very deeply this lapse in judgment, and wish your consideration for their privacy at this time. 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."
After replacing Atlee in the title game, the Kirkland team lost 7-1 to USA Central.
The Atlee team, meanwhile, spent Sunday returning home and got a warm welcome from their fans. The team’s leaders continue to contend that they will fight for an investigation into why the team was disqualified from Junior League World Series.