Move to revert the Little League age cutoff
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Little League needs to change the league age back to be consistent with Cal Ripken, tournament play, Dixie Youth, etc. as the current rule is eliminating thousands of young players from playing with their grade. Additionally many teams will continue to leave Little League for tournament/select ball as this league age is not allowing grade level play. Already too many people are leaving Little League which is so detrimental for communities as a whole. Below are the grass roots reasons that I encourage Little League to make a change for the coming 2019 season.
1. Just in our local league of 456 players, approximately 15% of players will not get to play with their fellow classmates (same grade). Many summer birthdays (June, July and August) wait a year to begin school. I am a teacher, school counselor, coach, league volunteer (coach and board) and Mom and see this extremely common practice first-hand. These “red-shirted” kids now graduate Little League in 5th grade and are forced to “play up” with the current age rules. Let them play with their grade.
2. Many of these summer birthdays will not have a place to play their 6th grade year (in the US) as most schools across our country do not have school sports in 6th grade. Intermediate leagues will not allow them to play with their same age peers. They will be playing "up". If the age changes back they can continue to play with their grade.
3. LL can argue they can play at the next level of Little league, but when forced to play up with Intermediate levels, players are often not emotionally/developmentally mature enough for the dugout conversations and added performance pressure. This is often why parents choose to delay school entry in the first place. Additionally they are not playing with their grade if a 6th grader is having to play "up" in Intermediate while approximately 75% of their 6th grade peers are in true Little League.
4. Changing bats helped to alleviate many of the dangers associated with having the older players in league.
5. Having 13 year olds in league or tournament play would not be a major issue as most leagues are finished by June (if the age change was June 1). You may have a few 13 year olds in tournament play, but why make a rule for the few instead of serving the many.
6. In 1,000,000 players approximately 150,000 players are impacted by this age if our local data is extrapolated (which I realize may not be statistically accurate). This is approximately 150,000 players that cannot play with their grade level peers and will graduate Little League a year too early.
7. It is NOT too late to change it now. This age group graduating this year is the first to be impacted and they would happily return next year (we are going to Cal Ripken next year with our own son so he has a place to play). NOW IS ABSOLUTELY THE TIME TO CHANGE IT BACK.
8. The mission of Little League is to "promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those who will participate in Little League Baseball and Softball."
Please DEVELOP these young people at the appropriate grade level. Consistency with Cal Ripken, Dixie Youth and tournament ball is necessary for the continued life of Little League. AAU has a great model that is both age and grade based thus addressing the difficulties of an international sport. By moving the age back to May 1 or June 1 you at least salvage most players and allow them to play with their same grade peers.
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