Little League Baseball is altering its rules to slowly eliminate older players. After the change, 13-year-olds will be excluded by the year 2018.
The new rules, posted to the league’s website on Wednesday, come in response to concerns from parents and coaches, the league said.
The changes in eligibility dates ensure that no player 13 years of age participates at any time in the league.
Currently a child can play if he has a birthday before April 30, but that age range means that some kids will have reached 13 before the season ends. But starting in 2018, the new rules will move the birth-date limit to August 31.
“This change will make the Little League Baseball Division, also known as the Major Division, truly a 12 and under program,” the statement reads, “ensuring that no child playing in the Little League/Major Division will turn 13 years old at any point during their final season in that division. The same will be true with the upper age limit at all teenage divisions of Little League Baseball.”
In its statement, the league said that the change comes as a result of a “very detailed participation research” project that revealed that parents wanted the change.
With the research, Little League said, “we learned that parents, players, and volunteers wanted to see Little League become, as a whole, a younger program, and give children an easier way to play Little League with their classmates. Since the research concluded, Little League revamped its Tee Ball program, established a Coach Pitch Program, and changed its residency requirements to allow children to play in the league where their school is located. Adjusting the Age Determination Date will help us achieve the goal of making Little League younger. And, making the date August 31, the same that many schools in many states use for student registration, allows Little Leaguers to play with their classmates.”
The league also denies that the age change seeks to weed out the powerhouse players, many of whom were the older kids. League spokesman Brian McClintock says that the league doesn’t keep stats on players by age.
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