At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at 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 names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.

The Situation

A local league uses municipal park fields and facilities as its place of operation during the Little League season. At the end of the Fall Ball season, local Little League volunteers and players, by way of agreement with the municipality, work together to close down the playing fields, concession stand, and accompanying buildings for the season, but fail to remove signage from the buildings and field’s fences, dissemble the batting cages, turn off the power, and secure the equipment shed and concession stand with padlocks. Several acts of vandalism occur during the offseason which results in thousands of dollars in damage. Citing the usage agreement with the league, the municipality requires the league to submit a claim to its insurance company in order to pay for the damage, and expect all repairs be completed to the municipality’s satisfaction prior to authorizing the league to use the playing facilities for the following season.

The Outcome

The Board of Directors votes to call police, and investigate the vandalism. While the investigation is ongoing, the Board votes to submit an insurance claim, but realizes that the time to process the claim, receive the funds, purchase the materials, and complete all repairs cannot be done prior to the start of the next Little League season. Because the repairs were not done before the start of the season, the municipality decides not to permit the league to operate any of its activities in the park until said time that the repairs are completed to the satisfaction of the municipality’s code inspectors. To be able to begin the season on time, all of the league’s practices, games, and related events are re-located to a neighboring park, which requires the league to purchase field and usage time. The unanticipated cost drains the league’s financial surplus, and mandates that it establish a pay-for-play participation fee, which has a direct impact on the league’s enrollment for that season.

Note to Leagues

Each fall, take time to properly and completely close out your league’s business. Whether it be facilities, finances, or forward thinking for next season, being thorough with your oversight. A small investment in new locks, working with the municipality on regular security monitoring, or finding off-site, secure storage can all help keep your league’s belongings secure. Also, consider getting the optional crime insurance that Little League International provides. Beware that Little League insurance does NOT protect against vandalism, fire, or flooding. Leagues would need to purchase additional local policies to provide these types of coverage. Trust your Board members to complete the tasks in their scope of responsibility. It is always prudent to have a “shakedown meeting” to discuss any final items that require attention, and receive final reports from the committees Make sure that when the current Board of Directors closes the book on the season, it does so knowing that the next Board is set to move forward into the new season with a clean slate.