Parents of former Little League baseball players from the Jackie Robinson West team in Chicagohave sued multiple parties over scrutiny their children faced after they were stripped of their national title two years ago.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by former coach Darold Butler and other parents against ESPN, Little League officials, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, and others for allegedly profiting off the children and their story before and after they were deemed ineligible over district violations.
“Defendant Little League deliberately capitalized on the notoriety of the JRW Team and the JRW Parents in order to bolster its corporate image, gain donations and otherwise profit from the unique appeal of the JRW Tournament Team,” the complaint stated, per DNAinfo.
The team won the 2014 U.S. Championships after an impressive season and gained the nation’s attention for beating the odds. They made public appearances and even went to the White House to meet President Barack Obama.
A month after winning the title in August, some players’ residences were revealed to be outside of the district, making them ineligible for the team. In February 2015, the Little League stripped Jackie Robinson West of their U.S. title.
The team decided to leave the Little League and join the Babe Ruth League last year due to what they called the “disrespect” of the children.
Parents claim they should have been notified of the investigation and said Smith’s comments the team was “perpetrating a fraud,” could be considered defamatory.
Lawyer James Karamanis is planning a news conference regarding the lawsuit on Monday.