At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about different situations that are happening at some of our 7,000 local leagues. Many of these calls and emails inform us of some very positive initiatives spearheaded by our millions of volunteers. However, there are also negative situations.

“Don’t Let This Happen to Your League” details a real-world scenario, how it has impacted a league, and how you might learn from it.

The names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.

The Situation

After registration and tryouts are completed, a family approaches a local league official asking if his daughter (12) and son (10) can join the league. The family moved into the area recently, and the local Little League field is only a few miles from their home. The League President and Player Agent review the family’s address and the address of the school where the children currently attend. Both addresses are outside of the league’s boundaries, but neither are inside the boundaries of another Little League program. Confirming that neither one of the children played Little League in the area last season, the League President and Player Agent decide to allow the children to join the league. After the family is notified, the children are asked to participate in the league’s skills assessment. At that time, parents of current players begin to approach the league officials in charge of the Major Baseball Division and the Major Softball Divisions, asking where the players came from. Unaware of the new players, both division vice presidents speak with the Player Agent, who confirmed they players are permitted to tryout and be drafted to teams in their divisions. The children are drafted and placed on regular-season teams. Both have productive seasons and are selected to the league’s respective tournament teams. As the verification process begins, the League President completes the tournament affidavit, which requires eligibility information – either residency or school enrollment confirmation. When the League President lists the players’ home address, and presents the affidavit to the District Administrator (D.A.) for verification, the D.A. identifies that the players do not live or attend school inside the league’s boundaries; and there was no previously-attained waiver of Little League Regulations. For that reason, the D.A. does not allow the players to participate in the district tournament.

The Outcome

The League President confirms to the D.A. that the league was aware that the players did not meet the eligibility requirements, but decided to allow them to participate because they did not have another Little League option. The League President also admits that the league neglected to request a waiver for either child. The parents are told of the decision, and immediately inquire as to how to correct the error. The District Administrator explains that what the league should have done was at the time of accepting the players into the league, the Board of Directors should have contacted the D.A. to begin the waiver process. Because there was no eligibility waiver in effect for these players, thy were not permitted to participate on the league’s Major Division baseball and softball teams that season.

The Solution:  All children should have the opportunity to play Little League, and Little League International is happy to work with local leagues and families to resolve issues like this, so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience.

If you have child/children who your league can confirm is/are not eligible to participate in your local league by residency or school enrollment, and you also can confirm are not able to be accommodated by a Little League program, you may only register that child/children to participate in your league AFTER a waiver has been submitted through the District Administrator to the Regional Headquarters, to the Charter Committee at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa. If the Charter Committee votes to allow the child/children to participate, a decision on tournament eligibility will be detailed in the response. Please note that a waiver should be requested for all out of boundary players, including those who have not yet attained an age for tournament eligibility.

To alleviate the stress of pressing parents or league guardians for residency documents or a school enrollment form after the regular season ends and before tournament play begins, use the Tournament Player Verification Checklist available on the Forms and Publications page under the Tournament header at LittleLeague.org. Even though this checklist is for tournament, the same documentation can verify residency eligibility for any player’s regular-season registration. If a player is to use the school enrollment form, this too can be completed and signed at the time of a player’s registration. With this information in hand, the local league will only need to attach the Tournament Player Verification form to the eligibility document(s) to prove a player is allowed to participate in the current season’s Little League International Tournament. Once a Tournament Player Verification form is approved, the player may continue to use the approved form and accompanying documentation for the remainder of their Little League career.