Little League International will not be issuing waivers that will allow players who will age out of their division to play in the same category next season after this year’s competitions were shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Little League program has four divisions (for competitive) with the Major catering to children in the 9 to 12 age group, Intermediate (50/70) for 11 to 13, Junior for 12 to 14 and Senior for 13 to 16. Local Little League programs, such as the CNMI District, are allowed to have a different cut-off, but it must still be within the same age range (10 to 12 for Major, 12 to 13 for Intermediate, 13 to 14 for Junior, and 15 to 16 for Senior).
“Little League International is saddened to see all of its league age 12-year-old boys and girls miss out on what many view as the pinnacle of their Little League experience, as well as all of those who will be aging out of their respective division this year. Little League International hopes that all of its 12-year-olds, and all those who are aging out of their respective divisions, have the best opportunity to enjoy their final season of participation together through local regular season and tournaments,” Little League International said in a statement posted on its website, as district and regional members inquired about the age restrictions.
Little League programs across the globe were scheduled to kick off early this year, but was postponed on many occasions before Little League International finally decided to pull the plug on the 2020 season in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Saipan, the 2020 season was set to start in March with 15 teams joining the tournament—five each in the Minor and Major, three in the Junior, and two in the Senior. A few days after the official announcement from Little League International, assistant district administrator and Saipan Little League Baseball president Mike Borja said they are calling the 2020 season off.
With the cancelation of this year’s competitions, coaches inquired with the Little League International, asking if there will be considerations on the age cut-off. The response was negative, but the sanctioning body assured its members that there will be no adjustments to the age restrictions at any level of the program for the 2021 season.
“Although this is an unfortunate situation that was out of Little League’s control, it would not be appropriate to have those aged-out players participate on the same field as younger players in 2021. We encourage all of those children who will age out of the Little League Baseball and Softball divisions to explore additional opportunities in our teenage divisions, and look to enjoy the Little League experience at the next level of play,” Little League International said.
This year’s cancelation of tournaments was tough luck for CNMI players that will age out in the Senior League division, as last year there was also no competition for the 15 to 16 age group due to the lack of venue. The Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios, where Senior and Junior League matches are played, sustained significant damage from Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018 and was not ready then to hold games for the 2019 season (that started in April). Only the Minor and Major competitions took place last year.