Little League parents sue ESPN and Stephen A. Smith in aftermath of Chicago scandal

The feel-good sports story of the 2014 summer has, inevitably, wound up in court.

Parents of former players from Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team filed a federal court lawsuit Thursday against Little League International, the local league, various officials and both ESPN and commentator Stephen A. Smith.

In sum, they either claim that the leagues and network profited financially even while knowing of the team's eligibility problems or that the team was defamed by charges the coach rigged eligibility documents and boundary maps.

See also: How a local news site busted open Chicago’s biggest sports story this year

The team won the United States bracket and lost in the finals to South Korea, just missing in a much-heralded bid to be the first all-black team to win the championship.

But the wave of emotion it set off prompted a parade in Chicago and treks to both the White House and Major League World Series amid a Little League investigation into illegality, according to the lawsuit. Only later did Little League go public, release a report revealing obvious cheating and strip the team of its wins and national crown, the suit claims.

The lawsuit also alleges the TV sports network, which has a substantial and exclusive contract with Little League International, defamed the coach and others via claims of fabricated residency documents. It alleges that Smith defamed them by declaring that the coach "threw" his players "into the wind."

Little League denied the allegations and ESPN didn't have an immediate response.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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