In the wake of last week's muddled mess of a decision to move a regional Little League all-star game out of Schenectady over alleged "fears" for player safety, the leaders of the regional Little League need to develop a fairer and more transparent way to handle such situations in the future.
The impromptu decision by District 11/12 Little League administrators last week to move an important game out of Schenectady to a "neutral site" in Scotia appears to have been based on concerns over alleged taunting by some Schenectady fans at a game in Saratoga.
However, Schenectady Little League officials were only told of the decision to move the game after it was made. They were given no chance to discuss the situation with the league, to review proof of a threat, to make their case for keeping the game in Schenectady, or to demonstrate how they could have assuaged fears, such as by promising to boost security.
The way the matter was handled had a ripple of negative effects.
First, there was the impact it had on the kids. The Schenectady players were robbed of a home game. And the Saratoga players were told they needed to fear for their safety when playing this team. They were owed a rational explanation.
Secondly, the decision gave a black eye to the city of Schenectady and its Little League. With no clear explanation or justification provided for the decision, some assumed that the Saratoga parents feared coming to Schenectady not only over the taunting, but because of the city's reputation for crime. That's not fair to the city or the league.
Third, what does it say to all involved about the fairness of the league's leadership and rules when monumental decisions like these can be made unilaterally and in secret?
As with government, the best way to avoid miscommunication and mistrust is to conduct business in the open. The governing body should have convened an emergency meeting and allowed both sides to present their cases. The board should have based its decision on what it learned, and then presented that decision, along with its justification for it, in a statement to the players, coaches and parents.
No one would have faulted them for putting the players' safety above all else in the face of a legitimate threat. But here, we simply weren't told the real reason for the decision or what rationale, legitimate or otherwise, the board had for making it.
One word to parents and fans: What started this whole mess were some negative comments apparently made by some adults at the game. If you're not there to cheer on the kids, keep your mouth shut.
Were it not for unsportsmanlike conduct from the bleachers, the league might not need a process for handling such situations. Unfortunately, as this case demonstrates, it very much does.