All over the country, Little League baseball programs have been losing kids. Some kids are choosing to play other sports like soccer, others are choosing to play video games instead. Some children really love the game of baseball but feel they can not play when they get to a certain age because the field becomes to big for them.
Little League Baseball has come up with a plan they think will help these children and keep them more involved in the sport. Currently the Little League division for 11 and 12 year olds is played on a field with 60 foot base paths and a 46 foot pitching distance. The next level up, 13 and 14 year olds, uses professional regulation fields, meaning 90 foot base paths and a pitching distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. Thats quite a jump and I can see why some children may be overwhelmed.
Local programs have been losing young ball players for two reason other then to other sports. Some kids are moving to teams that travel more and use an intermediate size field because they feel the smaller field is not enough of a challenge. Other children are dropping out of baseball completely because the big field is to much for them to handle at their age.
The new program Little League is starting for 12 and 13 year olds will use an intermediate size field. This will hopefully ease the transition between the smaller field and the larger professional size field. This new division will use a pitching distance of 50 feet and 70 foot base paths.
This is the first new division in Little League baseball since 1989. Little League has been in decline in the United States despite its growth in international countries. Little League baseball is hoping this new division will keep children interested in the game.
If this new program gains enough interest, it could have its own tournament similar to the Little League World Series, by 2011.