LITTLE LEAGUE Little League Baseball and Softball An Interview with Brian McClintock, director of media relations Little League, as it’s known for short, actually includes three components: Little League Baseball, Little League Softball and Little League Challenger (for children with physical or developmental disabilities). It is based in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. All told, the organization serves 2.4 million boys and girls in leagues across the United States and approximately 80 countries worldwide. Sports Destination Management: Little League is going to be celebrating an anniversary next year. Brian McClintock:Yes, 2014 is a big year for us. It will be the 75th anniversary of the founding of Little League Baseball and the 40th anniversary of our softball program. It’s also the 25th anniversary of our Challenger program and the 15th anniversary of the Little League Urban Initiative, which works to encourage participation in inner city areas around the nation. We are going to have a lot of fun celebrating all that. We have 30 million alumni and we’d like to get anyone who ever played or coached or enjoyed Little League involved in this. SDM: What new initiatives has LLB developed? McClintock: Several things come to mind. One of the biggest right now is that we are starting a new outreach program for parents. It is always our thought that increasing communication with parents will make for a better Little League experience for the whole family. Also in 2013, we launched an updated tee-ball program, which is intended to give ages 4-7 a foundation and introduction to baseball and softball. It emphasizes fun, fundamentals and fitness. The entire program, complete with explanations, descriptions and instructions, can be downloaded from our website, sort of a plug-and-play model. Something else we officially launched in 2013 was our Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division, which serves the children who are ages 11-13, between the younger levels of Little League and the Junior League ages. It was previously a pilot program, but we did launch it this year. With both those programs, we’re trying to make sure there is an option for every child who wants to play. SDM: A lot goes into putting on a successful baseball or softball tournament. What tips do you have for organizers who want to have a good event? McClintock: We like to talk about a well-organized and well-communicated event. There are so many facets to putting on a tournament – teams, fans, concessions and facilities – but we do emphasize good communication to all our coaches. Things like keeping the website updated, staying in touch about weather-related postponements and being up-front with any decisions you have made that are going to affect the players. Social media has helped us too. When we were putting on the World Series, we could post information about any weather delays on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. SDM: New sports complexes are being built and many existing complexes are being renovated. What do you think contributes to a good experience from a facility perspective? McClintock: Players certainly get excited about playing in a nice facility. If it has great dugouts, a field that is kept weeded, comfortable seats for the spectators, it all makes for a good experience. Unless you’re blessed with a domed stadium, you’re still obviously going to be at the mercy of nature when it comes to rainouts, but we always go back to making sure you’re communicating with your players and their parents. SDM: There are a lot of options out there for children to play sports. Do you think LLB is suffering from competition from other spring or summer sports, such as lacrosse? McClintock: It’s definitely a crowded atmosphere out there, and children have a lot of choose from, including a lot of options they never had previously. In addition, you have the increase in technology and a more sedentary lifestyle that kids can choose. Our goal is to try to offer something that is first and foremost, a fun experience that is all about the players. If they’re out there having fun and if they’re allowed to be comfortable in their surroundings, that will translate to the stands and everyone in them.
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