Kirkland American Little League needs more oversight | Editorial
June 21, 2012 · 2:14 PM
This week our staff of two worked on a difficult story that is important to the Kirkland community. It was also a story about community members behaving badly.
The most concerning part is that they are officials and parents connected with Kirkland American Little League. These are the people who are supposed to be role models for kids in our community.
KALL went through a major dust up just a few years ago when a parent was charged and convicted of assaulting a little league player by pushing him during an argument following a game. That story went national and gave KALL and Kirkland a black eye.
But this time it is more broad based and the blame can be shared by many.
The issue began when a video was posted to YouTube, anonymously, showing KALL President John Rudolph screaming at a fan to leave the park. On first glance it is shocking and disturbing.
But those connected with the incident told us it was part of a larger incident that took place throughout the game when a private coach would not stop coaching players from the stands. Despite being warned by umpires, the coach persisted. It is against KALL rules to coach from the stands and the coach should have stopped when the umpire asked him to. Why should kids respect umpires if an adult does not?
The video shows Rudolph yelling at the man to leave the park. This is also not conduct becoming of a league president. Being called from dinner to take care of the situation is part of the job and so is keeping calm.
The incident is one of the worst examples of how to deal with problems from an adult to a child. Rudolph said that he sent a letter of apology to both teams, which was a good start to taking responsibility for his actions and everyone makes mistakes.
The incident triggered an online petition to have Rudolph removed from his role as president. It cites 17 reasons for his removal, most had nothing to do with the incident seen at Everest Park.
But the biggest issue with the petition is that all 61 signees did so anonymously. In talking with some of the people who want Rudolph removed, they cited fear of retribution from Rudolph as to why they would not go on the record.
The problem we have with this statement is that he is a little league president, not an elected official or someone with major power. Sign your name folks. If you think it is right to have someone removed from office, have some guts and put your name behind it. It is not fair to anyone and what does it tell our kids about doing what you believe is right and standing behind your decision?
The people who signed the petition to keep Rudolph as president argued this point - but only to further their cause. The fact that all the petition signees to keep Rudolph gave their name should not surprise anyone. It is easier to support someone when you don’t fear reprisals.
There were some very concerning things attached to this issue. The fact that one person has control of an organization’s money, sums of more than $60,000, with little oversight is something that needs to be addressed within the league. There should be public oversight.
We live in an electronic age. There is no reason the funds collected by KALL and all the expenditures cannot be posted to a website. It is the right thing to do. You don’t need to go through a huge committee and a ton of red tape for every expenditure if the process is transparent.
None of this is black and white and there should be more oversight by the National Little League organization. Any investigation would be held by an outside third party, not by the KALL Board. They are way too close to the situation.
This type of issue is bad for everyone. Most organizations that deal with kids’ activities are run well. Other than this issue and the one several years ago, KALL has a tremendously positive impact on the Kirkland community.
But organizations like KALL should be viewed for what they are: a place to help teach kids through sports how to be responsible adults.