Little League World Series officials said there was no “bad intent” after a video of players sticking a cotton ball-like material on a black teammate’s head sparked a backlash online.
In the videothe player, who wears a Midwest Region uniform, sits in a chair as teammates pull the stuffing out of toys and stick it on the youngster’s head.
The team, from Davenport, Iowa, appeared to be watching Sunday’s Little League Classic game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox when the incident, which aired on ESPN, unfolded.
“That’s just Little Leaguers right there,” a commentator says as the camera pans into the scene.
A spokesman for the Little League World Series said in a statement that while officials understood how the incident “could be perceived as racially insensitive,” the organization was assured after speaking with the child’s mother and coaches that “there was no ill intent behind the act. shown during the broadcast.”
The Davenport Southeast Little League later offered more details about the video and situation. The Iowa group said its players were given a stuffed animal and pulling the stuffing out “in an attempt to copy the white mohawk of the star player of the Hawaii team, who they think is a great baseball player with a very cool hairstyle.”
“Unfortunately, the cameras did not show the boys putting stuffing on the heads of several players,” or the Black player laughing and loving his new “look,” the Davenport group said in a statement it posted online. along with a video of the player.
The team had “absolutely no evil or racial motivations,” and the kids were trying to emulate a player they admire, the Iowa group said.
“We are in no way trying to minimize the racial insensitivity of the boys’ actions and apologize for any harm caused by this video. We spoke to the boys to help educate them about why it was inappropriate – which none of them understood or understood. then understood . They understand it now, providing them with a life lesson that they will carry forward.”
The video drew fierce criticism online, with many branding it racist, while some warned it could discourage black children from wanting to play sports.
“That’s traumatizing, and the young man looks humiliated,” wrote one social media user. “The @ESPN announcer had the audacity to say, ‘Kids will be kids.’ Shameful,” the user wrote, tagging the broadcaster, who did not immediately respond to an immediate request for comment.
“Hey @MLB – you want more Black kids in the game, but this is what happens when they play America’s Pastime,” another said.
The incident comes days after a A black mother sued the Los Angeles Unified School District in state court over a past elementary school project she said involved students picking cotton to learn about slavery.
In the lawsuit, Rashunda Pitts branded the project, which took place in 2017, as “culturally insensitive” and said her daughter suffered extreme emotional distress as a result.
A spokesperson for the school district told NBC Los Angeles in October 2017 that school administrators immediately removed the cotton plant after they became aware of Pitts’ concerns. A district spokesperson said in an email to NBC News this month that the district typically does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation.