LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL STATEMENT ON SOFTBALL
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – The Little League Softball program was a topic of discussion on Friday as the Little League Baseball International Board of Directors convened during its annual Little League Baseball World Series meeting.
Little League Baseball has received numerous inquiries from volunteers and media over the last several weeks regarding boys playing in the Little League Softball programs. Six boys played in the Senior League Softball World Series that ended Aug. 19 in Kalamazoo, Mich. It was the first time a team with boys had reached the World Series level, although boys have been participating in Little League Softball programs for about 12 years. At the end of the tournament, the all-girls Philippines team regrettably forfeited to an Arizona team that included four boys.
This statement is being released on the subject of boys in the softball program.
The Little League Softball program began in 1974. More than 29,000 participated in that first year, and the regulations specifically allowed only girls to play. Over the years, the program grew to its present level of about 392,000.
In recent years, through out-of-court settlement of some disputes, boys were permitted to play Little League Softball only in those states where disputes arose. In California, for instance, boys have been eligible to play Little League Softball for 12 years. It should be noted that Little League has never been compelled by any court to admit boys into its softball programs.
However, it became unacceptable to Little League that there were some states in which boys could play on Little League Softball teams, and other states in which boys could not play. In 1996, the regulations in the softball program were revised by the Little League Baseball International Board of Directors, eliminating any mention of gender in the softball rules and regulations of Little League, except for certain equipment-related references.
Records indicate that about 2.5 of every 1,000 regular season softball players in the Little League programs are boys. Little League Softball programs are offered worldwide for children ages 5-18.
Little League considers its softball program a vital part of the overall Little League organization. It also considers the softball program an excellent way for girls to participate in healthy athletic competition, with advancement through district, state, regional and world series levels in four age divisions following regular season play.
Over the next several weeks, the staff at Little League Baseball International Headquarters, with direct input from volunteers from around the world, will discuss various options for the future of the softball programs. The goal of these discussions will be to formulate a plan that will legally permit Little League to conduct a softball program specifically for girls.