Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Proposed Legislation Banning Non-Wood Bats
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Sept. 24, 2007) – A survey of Little League volunteers in Pennsylvania shows that 84 percent of those responding are against proposed legislation that would make it a crime to use a non-wood bat in any youth baseball or softball game in the Commonwealth.
(Complete poll results appear at the end of this story.)
Non-wood bats, usually made of aluminum, have been used in Little League since 1971, at every level from Tee Ball for players as young as 5 years old, through the Big League Division for players up to 18 years old.
Under the terms of the proposed ban, a player who uses a metal bat would be fined $25 and his or her parent or coach would be fined $50. The legislation also bans the use of metal bats in all Pennsylvania high school baseball and softball games.
Little League International, the world’s largest organized youth sports program, opposes the legislation. So, apparently, does the vast majority of local Little League volunteers.
More than 25,000 volunteers were asked, in an e-mail poll, “Do you believe Pennsylvania should pass a law banning non-wood bats from Little League through high school baseball and softball?”
A total of 3,281 responded, with 2,762 (84 percent) saying “no.”
Of the most experienced volunteers (district staff and local league officers), 89 percent of those responding said they were against the legislation. Among respondents identifying themselves as “parents,” 86 percent were opposed.
But the numbers came as no surprise to Little League President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Keener.
“Our volunteers know that safety has been, and always will be, the hallmark of Little League Baseball and Softball,” Mr. Keener said in written testimony provided last week to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Children and Youth Committee. “They know that if this was an issue of safety, Little League would again take the lead in finding a way to reduce injuries.”
Mr. Keener will appear on Thursday in Harrisburg before the committee to provide oral testimony regarding the proposed legislation.
“We believe that passing such a law would not reduce injuries in baseball and softball,” Mr. Keener said in the written testimony. “Instead, in our judgment, it is more likely to result in fewer children participating not only in Little League, but in other youth baseball and softball programs, and high school programs as well.”
Because non-wood bats are lighter, it means younger, less-skilled players are able to swing them easier. Such players are able to have more success while batting, by being able to hit the ball more often. That, in turn, increases the involvement of other players in the game.
But the lighter bats used by Little Leaguers do not mean they are less safe than wood bats. More than 15 years ago, Little League International worked with manufacturers to institute standards for both the bats and balls used in Little League games. In that time, reported injuries to Little League pitchers hit by batted balls decreased from about 140 per year to the current level of about 30 per year.
“Certainly, nobody wants to see any child injured,” Mr. Keener said in the written testimony, “but consider that number in relation to the 4 million games and practices each year.”
Complete Poll Results
Question: “Do you believe Pennsylvania should pass a law banning non-wood bats from Little League through high school baseball and softball?”
Total “No” Responses: 2,762 (84 %)
Total “Yes” Responses: 519 (16 %)
|Responses by Position|
|District Administrators||21||21 (100 %)||0 (0 %)|
|Asst. District Administrators||19||18 (95 %)||1 (5 %)|
|Local League Officers||360||317 (88 %)||43 (12 %)|
|Local League Board Members||191||163 (85 %)||28 (15 %)|
|Managers and Coaches||1,035||836 (81 %)||199 (19 %)|
|Umpires||152||125 (82 %)||27 (18 %)|
|Parents||1,384||1,191 (86 %)||193 (14 %)|
|Other (Volunteer)||54||41 (76 %)||13 (24 %)|
|Other (Non-volunteer)||65||50 (77 %)||15 (23 %)|
|Total||3,281||2,762 (84 %)||519 (16 %)|