June 3, 2009, St. Petersburg, Fl - Little Leaguers everywhere are listening to the voice of character, Dale Murphy. Murphy, the former Atlanta Braves' seven time all-star who retired in 1993, plays an active role in the "I Won't Cheat" foundation he started to "leave the game better that we found it."
His message is clear, "Cheating in sports is wrong, and so is cheating in the classroom and in life" said the two-time National League MVP.
However effective the message seems to be, it is making an impact with youth sports around the country.
Little League International established, a partnership with the I Won't Cheat foundation last year and it's President & CEO Steve Keener, could not have been more excited about the program, "Little League supports the 'I Won't Cheat' Foundation's message, and is pleased to support a program that places higher value on the health and success of children than on wins and losses."
The message is spreading faster that one of Dale's 398 homeruns, but there is still a lot of pressure in sports that are tempting to athletes, young and old. "In today's culture, there is a lot of pressure on them to take short cuts," said Murphy, "We're trying to reinforce in them that they need to do the right thing."
According to the foundation, over 1 million high school athletes were using steroids. Since the creation of the foundation, Murphy has been outspoken about the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports and has challenged some of the high profile users to come clean.
"He sucked the fun and the life right out of it, " said Murphy after Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's homerun record of 755 in 2007. Murphy, who always played the game clean, said of Bonds, "He has set a terrible example for our kids." Bonds is still under indictment in California for possible perjury and tax fraud.
None of the Major League steroid jargon's were present when the Temple Terrace Little Leaguers went to bat for Murphy and the "I Won't Cheat" foundation at Tropicana Field. The Tampa Bay Rays' Community Corner were plagued with Little Leaguers asking passing Rays' fans to pledge not to cheat.
The Rays helped get out the message from the Little Leaguers and shut out the Kansas City Royals by a score of 9 - 0. Great pitching from Jeff Niemann and a grand slam from Ben Zobrist was mostly responsible for the Rays' victory last wednesday night in St. Petersburg.
The Temple Terrace Little League manned the "I Won't Cheat" foundation booth in the Community Corner at Tropincana Field and they are looking forward to hosting an "I Won't Cheat" booth at the Little League's closing ceremony scheduled for June 11th, 2009 from 6-9 pm at Ridgedale Park in Temple Terrace, Florida.
The purpose will be to get the players to pledge to refrain from cheating in sports, in the classroom or in life. Also, to echo Murphy's mission to "leave the game better than we found it!"
For more information on the "I Won't Cheat" Foundation, log onto the website at www.iwontcheat.com .