What did I miss while gone? Lots of stuff…and a great move by Little League

So I’m back after a much-needed vacation…turns out there’s a lot that happened in the local sports scene in the high schools (Camas’ heartbreaking loss in the state final), colleges (U-Dub drama…football coach leaves but the school ends up hiring a better one IMHO) and in the pros (the Mariners outspend the Yanks for a marquee player and one of the NBA’s best teams resides in the Rose City…whodathunk those ones???) while I was gone. So much so that my morning ritual became getting a cup of coffee (I’m an early riser…usually up an hour or two before the rest of my family) and grab a chair on the lanai of our condo in Maui and go through Twitter.

But one thing that I didn’t see on Twitter (you can follow me @PDub4170…cheap plug) that happened while I was away is an absolute stroke of genius by an organization that I’ve been very critical of. If you’ll remember back in May on my very first blog I chided Little League International for sending the wrong message with the All-Star portion of the schedule vs. regular league play. The day before Thanksgiving Little League announced its rule changes for 2014, one of which is the tweaking of the residence eligibility requirements. In the past, you took a look at league boundaries based on your home address but now, kids can use their school address too  (provided they are going to the school they should be based on the home address).

Best. Move. Ever. And I’ll give you three reasons why.

One, often times in this day and age the Little League boundaries are not the same as the school boundaries. Two, makes it a lot easier on working parents to get their kids to practices/games because they are more likely to know the kids on the baseball team because they have been going to school together for years and three, if you have an issue with one league you’re not stuck in that league…you have options.

The common misperception out there is that Little League is losing kids because of the 50/70 programs in other leagues or the “select” or “travel ball” phenomenon.  Like I said back in May I’ve been a part of Little League in some form or capacity since 1979 and I’ve got news for you – the main reason why Little Leagues are losing kids is because of the politics at their local leagues. And, considering it used to be easier to win the lottery than to get a boundary exception to go to a different league, especially if you run afoul (yes, pun totally intended) with the heavy breathers at your local league.

A family I know very, very well are the ones that would really benefit from this new rule. Per their address they are in league A’s boundaries. But their children’s school address (which is the school they are supposed to attend) is within league B’s boundaries. To say they had a bad experience with their league is an understatement  – they basically got voted off the island at league A. Before 2014 if their kids wanted to play Little League they more or less had to play with the league that snuffed their torches. Sure, you can get a boundary exception but good luck trying to get the league presidents to sign off on this, especially in their case. And, even if they do sign off and it gets approved your child isn’t eligible for All-Star play (their son was a two-time All-Star pick even though his parents were public enemy one and two of the league).

I can see the problems with this – when you sign up for Little League you have to have three proofs of residency but if you’re a school-boundary kid you have to have some type of document that proves your kid attended that school. Any former and current Little League board member will tell you that one of the biggest nightmares is getting the proper proofs of residency and this adds one more form to the mix. But, in the long run this is such a good thing for Little League because now some kids will have a choice, and will go to a league that’s a better fit for them. This is precisely why the rule was tweaked, so kids and families can have the best Little League experience possible. And where I sit from the cheap seats, that’s the most important thing.





Paul Williams

I am a sports nut who has tried to make the transition from athlete to athletic....err....supporter of my two children and their athletic endeavours. I am also a former sports reporter for The Arlington Times, Marysville Globe, The Skagit Argus and The Coeur d'Alene Press. Follow me on Facebook or on Twitter (@PDub4170).

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