As we navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, it is highly encouraged that each league and district adheres to the guidelines set forth by their respective state and local government and health officials in terms of public gatherings, organized youth sports, and sporting events when determining how and when to return to Little League® activities. Leagues should contact their state and local health authority and other municipalities for guidance prior to resuming any Little League activities.
As difficult of a year as 2020 was, it will be important to continue to be flexible as we endeavor to plan for a successful, if uncertain, 2021 season. As your league is starting to look forward to a brighter future next season, below are some important items to make sure your league attends to for a great 2021.
All volunteers are encouraged to continue to check LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources for the latest information and guidance for the 2021 season.
1. Evaluate your 2020 season
What baseball, softball, and/or Challenger Division opportunities were you able to provide? How many players will be returning to your league this season? Were there things that families enjoyed, like playing Little League through the summer months, that can be incorporated into your 2021 season?
We suggest surveying your parents and including some questions specific to how your league evolved during the 2020 season.
2. Schedule and complete the annual meeting and election with general membership
An Annual Meeting of the Members is required to take place each year according to the local league’s constitution. The local league’s constitution outlines when the annual meeting will take place and what is required of the annual meeting, which typically includes the election of your league’s Board of Directors for the upcoming season. Adapting these meetings as leagues prepare for the 2021 Little League season will be important to set you and your fellow volunteers up for success next year. Learn more about how to hold your annual meeting for this upcoming season.
3. Update new board information on the Little League Data Center
It’s important to have the correct contact information for your league’s leadership within the Data Center to ensure volunteers have all the information and access needed for the 2021 season.
4. Complete your chartering and insurance enrollment
The Coronavirus pandemic impacted every local Little League program in 2020, and, as we look toward a brighter future, the chartering and insurance enrollment process for the 2021 season is available through the Little League Data Center, for leagues to begin this process when they’re ready. While there are still a lot of uncertainties leading into next season, Little League International is committed to providing our volunteers with information and support as we work together to navigate this unprecedented situation. Please continue to visit LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources for the latest information and guidance for this season. If you have additional questions or need support, please submit your question to Little League Support.
As a reminder, Little League International also credited all chartered programs with the charter fees ($10 per team) paid for their chartered teams in 2020. Those funds have been credited through Little League’s Data Center based on the number of teams they have chartered for the 2020 season and are available for local leagues to use on current balances, future affiliation and insurance fees, tournament enrollment, and other Little League-related expenses.
Additional guidance on chartering and insurance enrollment for the 2021 season is available.
5. Fully review the current financial status of the league and develop a 2021 operating budget
As part of the end of the fiscal year, your league should have conducted its annual audit and fully reviewed its finances, which may have been greatly impacted by any refunds, loss of sponsorship support, lack of fundraisers, etc., in 2020.
Continue to review the Finance Guide on LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources for additional insight and guidance in helping navigate sponsorships, fundraisers, and other financial impacts on your season. Some things to keep in mind when developing your budget are any changes required by municipalities or school districts that will require a financial commitment to reserve any facilities you may utilize. Additional resources will be available throughout the 2021 season.
Little League has also created a new Grant Resources page (LittleLeague.org/GrantResources) to assist leagues with information on national, state, and local grant opportunities, as well as Little League-specific programs through our national partners.
6. Determine the start date to begin promotion for the 2021 season to recruit for players and volunteers
As local guidance ebbs and flows, your league will want to be as flexible as possible, which may mean that your registration period may begin earlier and extend later in the year to accommodate for changes. More than ever, focusing on social media and digital marketing opportunities will be important.
Be sure to communicate these dates to your general membership to retain existing and recruit new volunteers.
Additional information, resources, and guidance will be available to help leagues market playing and volunteering opportunities throughout the year at LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources.
7. Begin to build the framework of your season
Again, flexibility is going to be important as you sketch out your league’s playing plans for 2021. Some things to keep in mind are to:
- Confirm field and facility availability to help determine the start date for player evaluations, practices, and games. Remember, these facilities that you’ve typically used may have additional restrictions, fees, or availability issues.
- Determine if your season plans now conflict with other sports and/or non-Little League programs that have been moved from fall to spring.
- Discuss and determine if you want to schedule your season to allow for Little League approved alternate methods of play.
- Review with District Staff interleague and combined team plans for the 2021 season.
Additional scheduling suggestions will be available for local leagues in the near future at LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources.
8. Determine player eligibility and if it is necessary to rebalance teams
This year, many communities may face additional challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and understand how to resume activities after the unprecedented scenarios we faced during the 2020 season. Leagues and families are encouraged to work with their District Administrator and appropriate Region Office on their specific circumstances. In addition to the new Significant Changes to the 2021 Little League Official Regulations and Playing Rules, a series of approved rulings for the 2021 season will provide flexibility to welcome players and families your local Little League program.
Providing players the opportunity to participate in the local league where the school they attend is physically located has allowed children to enjoy the Little League® experience with their friends and classmates. This school year provides many challenges in education that impact how families can identify the appropriate league based on school attendance and provide the approved verification to establish a player’s eligibility based on school attendance. Additional guidance on how to utilize the school attendance option as families and school districts utilize remote, in-person, and hybrid learning opportunities is available here.
Little League International hopes that all children are able to have a Little League experience. Leagues and families are encouraged to work with their District Administrator and appropriate Region Office on their specific circumstances.
9. Contact your Regional Office to discuss player eligibility and to discuss other unique family situations that may require a waiver prior to the start of play.
Leagues are encouraged to contact their appropriate Region Office to confirm the existing waivers on file for players in their league and review any other circumstances that Little League staff can help navigate the appropriate process to encourage participation.
10. Review implementation plan to protect against the spread of COVID-19
Utilize Little League’s Best Practices on Organizing, Playing, and Watching Little League Baseball and Softball During the Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as your local and state guidance to develop your league’s plan for 2021.
Once your plan is approved by your Board of Directors, make sure you communicate these mitigation efforts to all your volunteers, families, and community members.
11. Complete an ASAP Safety Plan
The A Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Safety Plan will be available starting December 1, 2020, through the Little League Data Center, the ASAP Safety Plan helps outline your league’s efforts to providing a healthy experience that focuses on the wellbeing of all players, volunteers, and fans. Local leagues that submit an ASAP plan by the announced deadline (typically mid-April), and are subsequently approved, will receive an award based on their participation in the AIG Accident Insurance Program.