White players were seen covering a Black teammate’s head with cotton at the Little League World Series, but league officials claimed Monday the admittedly “racially insensitive” optics weren’t what they seemed. (Watch the video below.)
The incident, shared on Twitter by HuffPost’s Philip Lewis, unfolded during the Major League Red Sox vs. Orioles Little League Classic game Sunday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where the Little League World Series is played.
ESPN cameras focused on members of the Davenport, Iowa, team ripping stuffing out of giveaway toys and sticking it on the Black player’s head.
“That’s just Little Leaguers being Little Leaguers,” one announcer said.
“During the broadcast of the MLB Little League Classic, a Midwest player was shown with filling from a stuffed animal given away at the game on his head,” officials said in a statement. “After speaking with the team, as well as reviewing photos, multiple players on the Midwest region team were taking part in this while enjoying the game.”
“As only one player appeared on the broadcast, Little League International understands the actions could be perceived as racially insensitive,” the league statement continued. “We have spoken with the player’s mother and the coaches, who have assured us that there was no ill-intent behind the action shown during the broadcast.”
Darren M. Haynes, sports anchor at WUSA9, mentioned the statement Monday but still had pointed words about the incident.
“To be honest, I believe the kids were not trying to be racist,” he said. “They just didn’t know what they were doing was racist. But let this serve as a reminder why education is the best tool for tackling racism and discrimination so I don’t have to keep talking talk about senseless acts like this anymore on TV.”
HuffPost did not immediately hear back from ESPN in a request for comment.
The Davenport team is scheduled to play against Pearland, Texas, Tuesday evening.