Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith and ESPN have been hit with a lawsuit over an episode of “First Take” that aired about a year ago in connection with a Little League scandal. USA Today reports that parents and coaches associated with the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West Little League filed the suit Thursday alleging defamation and false light.
The “First Take” report discusses an incident in which people behind the league were accused of manipulating residency requirements to enable ineligible players to participate. The league was stripped of its Little League Baseball U.S. championship as part of the fallout from the scandal.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports: “The story of the all-black JRW team’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to the world championship game captivated the nation in the summer of 2014, but the story unfolding behind the scenes had few heroes, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.”
In the “First Take” coverage, USA Today reports, “Smith eviscerated the Jackie Robinson West leaders, going so far as to intimate that he was ashamed a league named after Jackie Robinson would have perpetrated fraudulent roster manipulation. According to the suit filed in Cook County court in Illinois, Smith ‘directly accused the JRW parents of perpetrating a fraud against the Little League.’”
The lawsuit was filed by the parents of 13 players, including two parents who were coaches with the league. The suit “also brings claims against Little League itself, the Chicago-area whistleblower who initially reported the league for its residency manipulation and a former official of the Jackie Robinson West league,” USA Today notes.
Here’s a report on the Little League scandal that aired about a year ago on ESPN …