Little League Adds Boys Softball Program
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – On October 11, 2000, the Little League Baseball International Board of Directors approved the implementation in 2001 of a Boys Softball Division for players ages 5-18 worldwide.
"We see this as an excellent opportunity to bring the benefits of Little League to more children," Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball, said. "We have seen in recent years an increase in interest among boys for softball. The goal was to protect the integrity of a girls softball program, while providing a viable, beneficial opportunity for boys who might not otherwise elect to join or stay in the Little League program."
In the 2000 season, there were approximately 392,000 participants, ages 5-18, in Little League Softball programs in the U.S. and 30 other countries around the world. The Little League Softball program was formed in 1974, with regulations originally limiting participation to females.
Participation by males in the softball programs of Little League has been increasing in recent years, however. In 1996, Little League’s softball regulations were revised to allow either gender to participate in all divisions. Little League estimates that between 500 and 1,000 participants in the 2000 season were males.
"With more than 40 million people playing softball annually, it is the No. 1 participation sport in the United States," Mr. Keener said. "Although the total number of boys in all divisions of the Little League Softball program this past season was relatively low in comparison to the total, we believe that offering a boys program and a girls program will draw more interest and create overall growth."
The Boys Little League Softball program will include regular season divisions for Tee Ball (5-8-year-olds), Minor League (7-12-year-olds), Little League (9-12-year-olds), Senior League (13-16-year-olds) and Big League (14-18-year-olds). The Little League, Senior League and Big League divisions will include tournament play, ending with a world series in all three divisions. The site or sites for the world series in those divisions are expected to be determined by Dec. 1.
Little League is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with 2.9 million participants and 1 million volunteers on six continents, in every state of the U.S., and in 101 other countries.