By Angela Weight
As if USA Baseball’s bat standard changes aren’t enough of a shake-up to last several years, Little League International decided to change their baseball “age determination date” from April 30th to August 31st beginning in 2017.
Lately, we’ve been getting emails from readers asking which tournament organizations (if any) are also adopting the new age regs and how travel ball players will be affected.
If this topic is new to you, here’s a little background. All Little Leaguers born between May 1st and August 30th will go from being the oldest players on their teams, to the youngest because they’ll have to move up an age group. Little League’s chief motivation for this change is to become an organization that’s truly for ages 12 and under, eliminating players who turn 13 while on a 12u team.
LL spokesman Brian McClintock told ESPN that this change has nothing to do with all the home runs, no-hitters and line drives produced by 13-year-olds. They simply want to make their age divisions more in-line with school districts, enabling kids to play on teams with their classmates.
I feel like kids born between May and August are kind of getting the shaft here. Isn’t it bad enough to always be one of the youngest in your class? Now they’ll be the youngest on their sports teams too. (But that’s another post for another day.)
Little League is rolling out their age eligibility changes in yearly waves to minimize chaos and rebellion.
January, 2017 – 10u (If your kid is in this category, then you’ve already dealt with the change and it’s old news.)
January, 2018 – 11u
January, 2019 – 12u
However, anyone born in 2005 is grandfathered into the old birthday cutoff of April 30th and will enjoy their last year of Little League without any disruption.
To break it all down….or cause mental breakdowns, Little League created this Periodic Table from Hell. (You hate us, don’t you, Little League.)
PONY Baseball, the only other organization to adopt Little League’s new age requirements, is implementing them this-coming year, 2018.
How does Little League’s new age determination date affect travel ball?
It really doesn’t.
USSSA, aka U-Trip, the big cheese of travel tournament organizations, has chosen NOT to adopt LL’s new birthday cutoffs. Hallelujah! So those celebrating birthdays between May 1st and August 30th will still be the old timers on their teams.
And since USSSA isn’t into computative torture, they offer this handy, dandy player age competition calculator. It even works!
Since most tournament organizations are sticking somewhere around the May 1st cutoff date, the only potential dilemma lies with travel kids playing Little League and PONY League. If a travel team has players born between May and August, that team wouldn’t be able to become a Little League team in-and-of-itself. But I’m pretty sure they’re not allowed to do that anyway, even though it often winds up like that in all-stars.
May Day! May Day!
In researching other popular tournament organizations’ age requirements, I kept seeing May 1st as the cutoff date. Is it the end cutoff date or the beginning cutoff date? They don’t really specify! This seems like minutia unless your kid’s birthday is May 1st.
I reached out to Brode from Triple Crown Sports who kindly explained that a May 1st kid would be the oldest on the team, not the youngest.
But then I visited the Nations website and found this!
So a kid whose birthday is April 30th could be the oldest player on his team at one tournament, yet not be eligible to play with that same team at a different tournament the following weekend? This is probably old news and a constant struggle for those with April 30th-May 1st birthdays. Maybe they should just take up a different sport.
As if my brain weren’t already flummoxed enough, I made the mistake of commenting to my friend Adam, who’s a softball coach, “so I guess the new age cutoff applies to Little League softball players too, right?”
He replied, “nope, softball is January 1st.”
Well, of course it is! No need to streamline things. That would be too easy.
I started this article in order to answer all the birthday cutoff questions we’ve been getting, but, honestly, the more I’ve researched, the more befuddled I’ve become. Maybe someone else should write an article to clear up all the confusion I’ve caused with this article.
All this insanity makes me miss complaining about the new bat regulations.