More than 93% of local leagues throughout the United States participated in the Little League® A Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) in 2023, accounting for the largest-ever number of plan submissions in the history of the ASAP program.
Introduced in 1995, ASAP is a part of the organization’s Child Protection Program and provides local leagues with best practices designed to make the Little League experience enjoyable, safe and healthy for all participants.
“Awareness is the key element of the ASAP program,” said Christina Taddeo, Little League International ASAP Coordinator. “The ASAP program is designed to raise the level awareness of the risks that are inherent to operating a Little League program and provide tools to local leagues to mitigate these risks.”
During the 2017 season, approximately 88% of U.S. leagues submitted ASAP plans. One year later, the Little League Data Center added the capability of electronic submission, resulting in an almost 2% increase in submissions.
That trend continued into 2020, the program’s 25th Anniversary season. The onset of the pandemic, as expected, impacted the total number of leagues submitting ASAP plans. Despite the pandemic, the total plans submitted for the year still topped the 90% benchmark. By 2021, leagues rebounded to more than 91% participation, and in 2022, the submission rate increased to 92%.
“There certainly is more compliance and District Administrators, along with the staff members in Little League’s five U.S. Regions, are doing a very good job,” Mrs. Taddeo said. “The league and district incentives serve as motivation, but mainly reaching this exceptional level of league participation is the result of volunteers identifying specific ways to make the Little League experience safer for their League.”
In the 15-requirement plan are several “common sense” reminders, while other aspects of the plan are designed to be customized based on where the plan is being implemented. Regular review of facility safety is one of the typical elements of an ASAP plan.
Local league and district safety coordinators are primarily responsible for preparing an annual safety plan, but it is the responsibility of the entire volunteer leadership to make it impactful.
“Increased league participation in the ASAP program over the years has directly resulted in a decrease in the number of injuries that occur at local leagues,” Mrs. Taddeo said. “Our goal is for every league to evaluate the overall safety of their program on an annual basis and the ASAP program is provided to leagues as a road map of how to accomplish this.”
The annual ASAP awards for region and national recognition are presented during the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Little League’s field lighting partner, Musco Lighting, provides a $500 cash award for the first and second place winner from each region chosen for Best Safety Plan. In addition to the $500 cash award and trip to Williamsport Pennsylvania, the winner of The Best Safety Plan in the nation will receive a Musco Lighting 200-foot field Light-Structure Green™ lighting system.
“Have fun, ASAP!” Simple enough to understand when talking about Little League and its reputation for having youth baseball and softball teach life lessons that build stronger individuals and communities. Equally important is the emphasis on safety and well-being of the players and volunteers, and that has been a direct result of the Little League A Safety Awareness Program.