Having the opportunity to play at a Little League® Baseball or Softball Region and World Series tournament is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The ongoing challenges the world faces due to the coronavirus pandemic will make the 2021 iterations of these iconic events unlike any other year.
For those teams that get the opportunity of representing their state at a Little League Baseball or Softball Region Tournament, and then potentially advance to our World Series in Greenville, North Carolina, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League International is committed to organizing these events in as safe and responsible manner as possible, with the physical and emotional well-being of all participants and families paramount. Teams are strongly encouraged to have limited to no interactions with any individual outside of their team pod (players, coaches, and manager), and Little League International staff will make every effort to coordinate each team’s time at all tournament locations to provide coordinated schedules for each team.
With the support of the Little League International Pandemic Advisory Commission and guidance from National Jewish Health located in Denver, Colorado, Little League International has created a detailed plan to operate our tournaments this summer. Our staff and volunteers on-site will do everything they can to make your experience memorable, comfortable, and help keep all teams on the field at these tournaments.
Here is what teams can expect at the Region and World Series Tournaments to help mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and maintain the health and safety of players, coaches and volunteers.
All players, managers, coaches and umpires, regardless of vaccination status, will undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival at their tournament location and will have significantly limited contact from other individuals outside their team until negative tests can be confirmed. Unvaccinated participants will also receive regular COVID-19 tests, every other day, throughout the tournament. Little League International, through its partnership with Major League Baseball, will work with Spectrum Solutions, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, to provide tests at no-cost to participants and coordinate testing logistics for each event location to help ensure consistency in results and efficient turnarounds in receiving results.
The tests are a PCR saliva test, in which those being tested will simply need to spit into their uniquely labeled tube and shake the tube, where it will be collected by a Little League International-appointed individual for processing. Results of the test are expected within 24 to 48 hours.
All tests and test processing will be funded by Little League International.
During game-related activities, umpires and tournament support staff in team-facing areas (dugouts, practice facilities, etc.) will be required to wear masks. Players, coaches, and managers are not required to wear masks during games or practices.
While in any public, common areas, and if instructed by Little League International personnel, players, coaches, and managers are required to wear masks. These areas include:
- Watching games as a spectator
- Walking throughout the complex and/or hotel facility
- In dining areas when not eating or drinking
- Interacting with other teams
- Any permitted interaction with individuals outside of a team pod
All tournament staff must be masked whenever interacting with players, regardless of vaccination status. Additional details and requirements will be provided based on each location.
Vaccinations are required for individuals working the tournament (volunteers, umpires, Little League employees, medical staff, media, etc.) who will have any direct interaction or contact with the teams. Players, coaches, and managers are not required to be vaccinated.
Social Distancing and Non-Game Related Activities
Ultimately, the team manager will be responsible for decisions regarding any outside interactions, off-site meals, family visitations, or any other activity that is not related to their games or practices. Limiting contact with any individual outside of the team pod is to help reduce the risk of exposure of players and coaches to individuals with COVID-19.
In the Event of a Positive COVID-19 Test
Even with these precautions in place, through no one’s fault, a player, coach, or manager may test positive for COVID-19. The health, safety and well-being of every participant is Little League International’s paramount concern. In the event of a positive COVID-19 test within a team, Little League International staff, in consultation with its medical advisors, will work efficiently to communicate with the appropriate family members, team contacts, and state health officials, to initiate all appropriate quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing procedures. The Little League International Tournament Committee will assess the team situation to identify if the team has enough players and coaches to proceed with competing in their respective tournament. If the team cannot field nine players, they will be removed from the tournament.
Families and Spectators
Little League Baseball and Softball Region and World Series tournaments are played in complexes that are typically open to the public. In order to create an atmosphere where players can walk throughout the complex with limited exposure to individuals outside their team pod, and to help reduce the risk of coming into contact with any individuals who may be carrying COVID-19, spectator attendance at all tournaments will first and foremost accommodate the families and friends of the teams. Each team will receive 250 passes that will grant them access to stadium seating for their games only, at all locations. Distribution of these passes will vary from location to location, and typically be the responsibility of the team manager to determine their own appropriate process of allocation to their team’s family and friends.
A limited number of additional passes and/or tickets will be distributed at the discretion of Little League International, by location.
For those individuals attending any Region and/or World Series event, Little League International strongly recommends and encourages unvaccinated individuals to wear masks while on Little League International property except when eating or drinking. Visitors are also encouraged to bring proof of vaccination. Please note that there will be very limited concession and merchandise sales at these events. Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks but are encouraged to do so if that is more comfortable to them.
Family Interaction with Teams
Little League International knows how important families are to the Region and World Series experience for teams participating in these events. Parents and families, however, are strongly encouraged to not interact with individual players or the team pod during the Region and World Series tournaments. Little League International will do everything in its power to provide opportunities to virtually connect players with their families, as well as support the emotional and mental well-being of all players, parents, and family members with professional support from mental health services and professionals.
Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of the team manager to approve or deny interactions with family members, with additional guidance from Little League International Staff at the Little League Baseball and Softball World Series, however, Little League International strongly encourages limited to no interaction with any individual outside their team pod to reduce the risk of interacting with any individual who may be carrying COVID-19.
Additional information, support, and guidance will be provided throughout the tournaments to teams and their families.
Activities Outside of Practice and Games
While much of the teams’ time at these tournaments will be dedicated to practice and games, at each region tournament location, players have access to swimming pools (either at their designated hotel or at their dormitory complex). Players are encouraged to bring their personal gaming devices, as well. Additional activities will vary depending on tournament location.
Participants advancing to the Greenville and Williamsport for a World Series tournament will have additional access to activities, planned gatherings, and other entertainment to elevate their experience throughout the tournament.