Little League Baseball was established in 1939 by Carl Stotz in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Today, the organization boasts millions of participants and more than one million adult volunteers. Little League has chapters in every state and over 80 countries.
Little League states its mission as follows:
"Little League Baseball, Incorporated is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those who will participate in Little League Baseball and Softball.”
Through proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists children in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. By espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty, the Little League Baseball and Softball program is designed to develop superior citizens rather than superior athletes."
The benefits of Little League are many including:
1. Community - Little League is a community based organization that allows schoolmates of all abilities the opportunity to play America's pastime on the same field. The organization also offers families the opportunity to volunteer in their local community and bond with other families over the game of baseball.
2. Cost - Little League offers a baseball experience at a very reasonable cost (most leagues range from $200 - $300 for the entire season.)
3. Opportunity - Little League is open to all age/boundary eligible players and offers guaranteed playing time for all participants.
4. Competitive Structure - In the confines of the season, Little League Baseball offers teams the opportunity to compete in a regular season for seeding in playoffs. Through the playoffs structure, players are exposed to a tournament structure and at certain levels the opportunity to play against teams outside of their league in the Tournament of Champions.
5. All Stars - The Little League All Stars process allows exceptional players during the regular season to be recognized and afforded the opportunity to represent their league in tournament play. All Stars is a great experience for advanced players and a great community event.
Potential drawbacks to Little League:
1. Coaching - Given the volunteer nature of Little League coaching, the quality of coach can range from the best professional coaching to inexperienced, first time novice coaches. Additionally, given most coaches are related to a player on the team some parents may complain about favorable treatment.
2. Field Dimensions and Rules - Given Little League is for players of all abilities, field dimensions are considered by some to be small for the most advanced players. Additionally, certain aspects of the rules slow the game down (no lead offs, etc.) to allow players at all skill levels the opportunity to compete. These elements foster some to complain that their players regress during the Little League season.
3. Politics - Given the parent volunteer involvement, some complain about team politics in the form of playing opportunities and others complain about league politics in the form of All Star selections.
Hard 90's Take:
Little League is a very important component to the youth baseball community. Little League offers many players their first baseball experience. The positives of Little League far outweigh the negative and over the last several years, Hard 90 Baseball has been a huge supporter of several of the local leagues through cash, facility and instruction donations.
Whether advanced youth players choose to compete in Little League is really an individual decision factoring in player interests, family interests and options available.