The process of selecting players for teams to compete in the Little League® International Tournament can be a challenge, and too often is misunderstood.
If your local league conducts its Tournament Team Selection democratically, with the players themselves involved in the process, it will often avoid many of these problems. (See the current year’s Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies for the tournament rules, guidelines, and explanations.)
Criteria for selection must be limited to the following:
- League Age
- Participation in 60 percent of the regular season in an age-appropriate division is required. See the current year’s Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies for the tournament rules, guidelines, and explanations regarding the specific minimum number of games that a player must participate in to establish tournament eligibility; and the division(s) in which a player is age-eligible for selection.
- Residence, as defined in the Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies, refers to a place of bona fide continuous habitation by one or both player parents, or legal guardian(s), within a league’s physical boundaries. School Enrollment, as defined in the Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies, outlines a player’s eligibility to participate given his/her confirmed attendance at a school within a given league’s physical boundaries during the traditional academic school year. School attendance shall be established indicating a player’s enrollment as of October 1 (of the previous year). Players who do not meet the residency or school eligibility requirements must a have a letter of approval from Regional Headquarters that is endorsed by the Little League International Tournament Committee, specifically noting the eligibility of that player for that division in that league and in that year.
Will the candidate be able to practice and play with the team? Will the player be away on vacation during some or all practices/games? If so, the league may wish to not to consider the player for selection.
The opinion of those making the selections is NOT to be based primarily on statistical information. While statistical information could help form the basis for a voter’s opinion, ultimately a voter can vote for any eligible player, for any reason(s).
A well-run local league follows Little League’s recommendation for selecting the Tournament Teams. In that recommendation, the groups involved in voting are:
- Players in that division
- Managers in that division
- Coaches in that division
- Volunteer umpires
- Board of Directors
Every person in every group gets one vote, selecting up to the maximum number permitted on the Tournament Team. This method all but eliminates charges of favoritism by managers or the Board of Directors, and promotes a clear and transparent selection process that can be easily tracked.
The players with the most total votes comprise the Tournament Team.
Those players who do not receive enough votes are placed into a pool, should there be a vacancy on the Tournament Team. If a vacancy arises, and the Board of Directors decides to fill it, the player who received the next-most votes is automatically placed on the team after verification of eligibility. However, these players MUST NOT travel with the team and are not covered by Little League Accident Insurance when traveling to and from games.
The announcement of the Tournament Team cannot be before June 1 and not until the availability and eligibility of all prospective team members have been established. If conducted, tryouts for the Tournament Team cannot begin before June 1. Violation may result in revocation of Tournament privileges by the Tournament Committee in Williamsport. (See the current year’s Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies for the tournament rules, guidelines, and explanations).
Taking these suggested steps to choosing your tournament team can help lead your league to a successful, fun, and memorable tournament experience.