Petitioning President, Pony Baseball Abraham Key and 6 others

Petition Pony Baseball to amend the proposed 2018 rule change of age eligibility.

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AMENDED JULY 25th, 2017

Under the 2017 Pony Baseball Rules, those eligible to play in the Pony 14U Division must be born between May 1, 2002 and April 30, 2006 to be considered age appropriate 14 through 11 year olds, respectively. If this time frame remains in place, anyone born between May 1, 2003 and April 30, 2007 would be eligible for the Pony 14U Division for the 2017 season.

However, proposed for the coming 2018 season, the window of eligibility changes to mirror that of school and International Rules Baseball calendars. This means the cut-off date in any given calendar year is September 1st.  The effect is that anyone born between May 1, 2003 and August 31, 2003 would be considered 15, and thus ineligible for Pony 14u for the 2018 Season.

We hereby petition Pony.org to "grandfather" in this subgroup of players—FOR A PERIOD OF TWO YEARS-- so that they do not lose their final year of 14U eligibility, or have their Pony eligibility shortened by one year in the case of entering players.  There are several reasons this petition should be strongly considered.

First and strongest of which is the lack of sufficient notice to potential players.  Pony.org has undeniably walked this through committees and sought Board, Region and League input to come up with a win-win consensus that benefits members and the organization alike. There is no indication of malice behind the change. It is merely the timing behind the change that should be addressed.

Consider that many Leagues did not learn of the change until after registration, or in some cases on the eve of league drafts and player selection. Many players and their families in this group had no idea that they would have only 1 year of eligibility between ages of 13-14, and thus no time to consider other leagues or playing options. Likewise, players who will be entering in the 2018 Season as 14s instead of 13s—and lose a year of eligibility—may have signed up earlier to ensure 2 years of productive preparation for the demands of larger fields.

Next we ask that if you are going to follow the example of an outside organization like International Baseball when considering rule changes,  that you also recall another youth organization faced recently with the same dilemma: Little League Baseball. In 2013 LLB also sought to gear its registration calendar to International, debated it in their Congress and made the move. It was met with sufficient protest that ultimately LLB "grandfathered in" the subgroups of players affected, after a year's delay to 2015, giving communities time to adjust to the new calendar. As this year's LLB 12s "age up" to Pony this coming year, there are thousands of 13s who will be considered 14 under Pony rules. By grandfathering these players now, Pony will find a much smoother transition between the two leagues and avoid penalizing anyone caught in the April through August group by shortening their eligibility from two years to one. 

 Finally, consider Pony 14u's own guiding mission (quoted from Pony.org):

"PONY 14U™ LEAGUE is the transition league that takes players from the "kid" leagues to "young adult" status. It permits a player to play on a diamond tailored to his size and capability rather than being moved to one with twice the playing area in a single year. PONY 14U™ LEAGUE is specifically designed for the player in those very formative early-teen years.

The vast majority of players of league age 13 simply do not belong on a full-size diamond. At the same time, they have outgrown the dimensions of the "kids baseball" diamonds used in BRONCO LEAGUE and other "12-and-under" programs.

PONY 14U™ LEAGUE was founded for this very apparent reason. After becoming skillful players in the younger leagues, players in their early teens found themselves unable to compete, to play the game of baseball as it was intended to be played, on the regulation size diamond. "

In sum, this rule change seems counter-intuitive to Pony.org's own mission of providing an environment for "cusp" kids to develop the skills needed to play on regulation sized fields. The rule change appears to have nothing to do with safety or even competitive balance, but rather, is being implemented so as to mirror other organizations' age rules. While we appreciate that such unification could offer benefits down the road, implementing the rule change without having given sufficient notice to players who will be effected is profoundly unfair and, we would suggest, counter to Pony's mission. Those who will be impacted next year (i.e. this year's 13 year olds who will be deemed 15 next year) could have chosen a different league this year had they known they would have been limited to only one year in Pony. Indeed, no player should be left out because of a semi-arbitrary calendar change that was made effective after a point in time when those effected could have taken action to put themselves in a better position for their 13 and 14 year old years. As Pony recognizes, the 13 and 14 year old time period is a critical development period and if the current ruling is enacted, we suspect thousands of kids will be unfairly impacted.

It is for the above reasons that we, the undersigned, petition Pony.org and Pony 14U League to "grandfather" in those members born between May 1 and August 31, 2003, so they may be eligible to play their final 14U Season with Pony baseball for the 2018 and 2019 Season.

JULY 25th, 2017 AMENDMENT TO PETITION—due to the strong response from members of all divisions of Pony Baseball, we hereby amend the petition as follows:

It is for the above reasons that we, the undersigned, petition Pony.org and Pony Baseball to “grandfather” ALL AGES of those members whose birthdays fall between April 1 and August 31 of any eligible year--FOR A PERIOD OF 2 YEARS--beginning with the Spring Season 2018, so all players, members and Leagues have a period of adjustment to the new age requirement.

 

This petition will be delivered to:
  • President, Pony Baseball
    Abraham Key
  • West Region East Zone Director, Pony Baseball
    Tom O'Connor
  • Multi-Media Manager, Pony Baseball
    Carson Fox
  • Office Manager, Pony baseball
    Kim Lemons
  • President, Dick's Sporting Goods
    Ed Stack
  • CMO and SVP, Dick's Sporting Goods
    Lauren Hobart
  • West Region Director
    Martin Vega


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