At Little League® International and in our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about situations that are happening at one 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 Situation

A local league promotes and encourages parents with Tee Ball-age children to register their child to play in the league. When the parents arrive with the child on registration day, the Tee Ball Vice President accepts the child into the program, but does not reference the league boundary map, properly explain the residency requirements, or carefully review the documents required to be eligible to play in the league.

Because the player is a familiar face and the parents have been volunteering in the league, the player participates in future seasons illegally with no member of the league closely reviewing the player’s home address. As a nine-year-old, the player is selected to the league’s 8-10 All-Star tournament team. Upon closer review of the required residency documents by the league’s Player Agent, it is discovered that player lives outside league’s boundaries, but does live inside the boundaries of a neighboring league.

The Player Agent informs the League President of the oversight, and the League President informs the parents of the player that he is not eligible to play in in the league. The District Administrator is contacted by the League President and explains the situation.

The Outcome

Due to the oversight and the requirement that a player’s parent/guardian must establish bonafide continuous habitation or the player must physically attend school within the league boundaries, in order to keep the tournament team eligible for play, the player is removed from the roster. The circumstance is explained to the parents, who are instructed to register the player in the home league next season.

The Solution

Local League officials must carefully review EVERY would-be Little Leaguer, confirm residency/school enrollment requirements during the registration process for all players regardless of age. The League President and Vice Presidents for younger divisions need to take extra care with younger families to be sure of a child’s league age (according to the Little League Age Chart), the league boundary map, and the acceptable residency/school attendance documents. Have an easy-to-read boundary map for parents to review at registration, with contacts of other local, surrounding leagues.

A Board member designated to welcome parents as they arrive at the registration site can assist parents new to the program with organizing their personal information, including the player registration form, the volunteer application, and residency documentation, while offering an explanation of registration fees and fundraiser materials. The greeter can also answer any questions regarding league boundaries and direct the parents to the Board member overseeing the age-appropriate division for the child.