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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2009 > January - April > Despite Economy Little League Remains the Affordable Choice for Children, Families and Neighborhoods

Despite Economy Little League Remains the Affordable Choice for Children, Families and Neighborhoods

Despite Economy Little League Remains the Affordable Choice for Children, Families and Neighborhoods

Affordability Story Photo 1

Since its founding, Little League has remained a community-based program, that is operated by local volunteers and supported by the neighborhoods it serves. The cost of operation is an annual task for local Little Leagues throughout the world, but still the program remains the most widely-recognized and affordable option for more than 2.6 million children (ages 5-to-18) who wish to play organized baseball or softball.Affordability Story Photo 2

“Playing Little League has always been about developing social skills and understanding the values of leadership, personal accountability and teamwork,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Every child who plays Little League wants to have fun, while we as an organization want to make the program practical and affordable for all of our leagues.”

The current economic situation, may force parents to make some tough choices when deciding if their children will be playing organized sports in the coming year.

Little League does not require its chartered programs to charge a registration fee for a player to participate. What Little League does have are regulations forbidding leagues from turning away players because of an inability to pay.

“Our leagues, their players and volunteers rely on each other to make the program work,” Mr. Keener said. “Little League has many talented players, but is for everyone, not just the elite who can afford to play.”

Many leagues pass no costs on to its families, while others, along with a relationship with local sponsors, set a reasonable fee that will help offset operating expenses for the season. In fact, Little League International is continually searching for cost effective ways for communities to be a part of the program.

In contrast, the out-of-pocket cost for a family to send one player to a popular 12-under travel ball weekend tournament could be hundreds of dollars, including travel costs, lodging and food.

“Some children are more skilled than others, but our program is not solely about making great ballplayers, it’s about making better people,” Mr. Keener said. “Some players are fortunate to have the talent to play baseball and softball at a high level, and that’s one reason why there is the Little League International Tournament. For the majority though, they simply are looking for an opportunity to play, and parents want their children to be a part of something that can provide them with found memories and a positive experience.”

Other youth baseball and softball organizations have gained favor in recent years, despite the cost and lack of a governing body or safety oversight for players. Travel ball or select club teams charge parents exorbitant amounts of money under the guise that they offer a better, more competitive brand of baseball or softball.

“In the past several years, youth leagues not affiliated with Little League, and lacking the commitment to family and community, have taken the sports of baseball and softball and turned them into more of a business venture than a recreational outlet,” Mr. Keener, the first Little League graduate to be elected President and CEO of Little League International, said.

“Little League is acutely aware of the delicate economic balance required by its member leagues,” Mr. Keener said. “To that end, we have been diligent in maintaining the cost effectiveness, while not compromising on any of the materials or resources available to our chartered members.”

Some examples of how Little League has made the program cost effective while keeping it relevant on the local level include, one free rulebook for every team, lowering charter fees, requiring background checks on volunteers at no charge to the leagues (for the first 125 checks), the development of LittleLeagueCoach.org - a free on-line coach and manager training website, the ASAP program, which yields lower insurance premiums through participation, and reimbursement for travel costs for all teams participating in the annual Little League International Tournament.

“The quality of the Little League game is as good as ever,” Mr. Keener said. “Still, in these trying financial times, it is our intent that parents understand that Little League is for everyone, and getting involved is an investment in our children’s future.”

Affordability Story Photo 3

Little League International is cost-effective, while remaining relevant on the local level. More than 2.6 million players, ages 5-18, participate in Little League Baseball and Softball. Some of the ways that Little League has crafted the program to serve local communities and neighborhoods include providing two free rulebooks for every team, lowering charter fees, requiring background checks on volunteers at no charge to the leagues (for the first 125 checks), the development of LittleLeagueCoach.org - a free on-line coach and manager training website, the ASAP program, which yields lower insurance premiums through participation, and reimbursement for travel costs for all teams participating in the annual Little League International Tournament.