Your Voice is a way for readers to share questions with us, and an opportunity for Little League® to provide some important information and guidance. We are excited about our continued conversations, and, as always, we invite you to share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions to [email protected].
Like you, everyone at Little League® International, along with all local leagues are dealing with each uncertain day and trying to grasp what lies ahead as we all move forward together through the COVID-19 pandemic. For parents, grandparents, and guardians of Little Leaguers®, Your Voice is a way for you to share questions with Little League, and an opportunity for us to provide some important information and guidance. Over the past several weeks you have proposed a vast assortment of questions and we have assembled a comprehensive collection of FAQs. Here are the queries that parents should focus on. We invite you to share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions.
Justin from Virginia – Where can I find what my state or county is doing to educate on the Coronavirus?
Little League – We are advising all our leagues to follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your state’s public health department (click here for a listing of state public health departments).
Drew from South Carolina – Will there be waivers to allow anyone who ages out of their division (i.e. 12-year-olds) to play next year?
Little League – Little League International is saddened to see all of its league age 12-year-old boys and girls miss out on what many view as the pinnacle of their Little League experience, as well as all of those who will be aging out of their respective division this year. However, no adjustments will be made to the age restrictions at any level of the program for the 2021 season. Little League International hopes that all its 12-year-olds, and all those who are aging out of their respective divisions, have the best opportunity to enjoy their final season of participation together through local regular season and tournament opportunities, where appropriate. Although this is an unfortunate situation that was out of Little League’s control, it would not be appropriate to have those aged-out players participate on the same field as younger players in 2021. We encourage all those children who will age out of the Little League Baseball and Softball divisions to explore additional opportunities in our teenage divisions and look to enjoy the Little League experience at the next level of play.
Chelsi from Oklahoma – How should our league/district handle our registration fees and other league finances?
Little League – We know that many leagues have been working hard to prepare to provide a great Little League experience for the families of their community and have already ordered equipment, jerseys, and other associated items for the season.
As this situation develops, we would encourage leagues/districts to take this time during the temporary suspension to continue to review league finances, both income and expenses, to determine how much could be allocated to non-refundable expenses, equipment loss, or refunds. Leagues should also assess if any of these non-refundable expenses may be for items that could be used in the future. Issuing refunds or applying registration fees to future seasons should be evaluated as part of the leagues overall budget review.
After that assessment, each league’s Board of Directors should work on establishing a refund policy specifically for this situation based on that budget work that, should it be necessary, they can communicate to their families. For future seasons, it may be beneficial for leagues to create a refund policy to place in their bylaws to outline how to handle refunds for future seasons.
As always, we encourage leagues to be transparent with their finances and explain these expenses to their families. Urge your parents to be patient, as we work through this ever-evolving situation, with the hopes of providing opportunities to play Little League throughout the spring and summer.
For more financial information and guidance, please visit the Little League Coronavirus (COVID-19) Financial Guide.
Patrick from Maryland – If a (player or volunteer) in my league is diagnosed with coronavirus, will he/she need a doctor’s written permission to return to our league?
Little League – As with any injury or illness, it is a best practice that a player or volunteer be cleared by a medical professional to participate in Little League activities.
Ally from Missouri – Is (insurance) coverage still in place during the suspension of play?
Little League – Yes. Although official games and practices may not be happening, your (league’s) coverage, if paid in full, is active and still providing essential coverage for the league.
Declan from California – How was the decision made to cancel the Little League International Regional and World Series Tournaments?
Little League – Little League International conducted a thorough assessment of the impact the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has had on 6,500 community-based Little League programs in 84 countries. After exhausting all possible options, Little League International, on behalf of its Board of Directors, has made the disappointing and difficult decision to cancel its seven World Series tournaments and their respective regional qualifying tournaments. This decision was made based on the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, in accordance with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as the their qualifying regional tournaments.
As we assessed the feasibility of including these tournament opportunities as part of our resumption of play plans, several factors went into the decision to cancel the World Series and Regional Tournaments, including:
- The inability to play qualifying tournaments in many of our U.S. and International regions, coupled with direction from federal officials regarding the complexity of international travel restrictions and immigration requirements.
- An indication from teams from around the world that they will be unable to participate or travel to these tournaments.
- The testing and mitigation protocols that would need to be in place should an individual participating or attending an event be diagnosed with COVID-19.
Peter from Tennessee – Why couldn’t any of the events be moved to another city in an area that isn’t affected as heavily or play without fans?
Little League – The dream for many Little Leaguers is to have the full experience playing at the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, or at its other iconic Regional and World Series locations. Without being able to offer that full experience each summer, in addition to the multitude of logistical challenges that accompany the Little League International Tournament (such as housing, international and domestic travel, and other accommodations), Little League International, on behalf of its Board of Directors, ultimately made the disappointing and difficult decision to cancel the Little League World Series and Region Tournaments at all divisions for the 2020 season.
MaryAlice from Vermont – If our league cancelled its insurance, can it be restarted when we begin league activities?
Little League – Yes, however, before any Little League activities may resume, the insurance must be reinstated, and would require a new policy at full premium since the old policies were cancelled. The short term, minimal gain for the league would be far outweighed by the potential risk and exposure long term as well as potential to pay more for reinstatement of their coverage. It is highly recommended that every local Little League program maintain its insurance coverage, even if no games or practices are being held, to prevent a lapse in coverage and protect against potential issues.
Kayda from Mississippi – How was the original May 11 date chosen for resuming Little League activities?
Little League – Following the latest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to refrain from gatherings for at least eight weeks, the leadership at Little League International chose the May 11 to coincide with that guidance. Our first recommendation was April 6; however, we are now advising all leagues to suspend/delay their activities until May 11. It is highly encouraged that each league and district adhere to the guidelines set forth by their respective state and local government and health officials in terms of public gatherings and sporting events when determining when it is safe to return to normal activities after May 11. Leagues should contact their local health authority for guidance prior to resuming any Little League activities.