In 1939, the Little League organization got its start in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to provide a baseball program for youth. The Little League’s fundamental principles, which involve building character through sports, have survived into the 21st century. The National Little League Baseball Headquarters in Williamsport publishes a code of conduct for players, parents, coaches and managers to maintain the integrity of the organization’s youth-focused mission. While many local leagues modify the language, the code of conduct is accepted by nearly 200,000 Little League teams all over the world.
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The code of conduct requires that players exhibit exemplary behavior during Little League activities. Players must respect umpires, coaches, managers and other players and demonstrate good sportsmanship. Players pledge not to use alcohol, drugs or tobacco products while participating in Little League activities. Local league codes might include prohibitions against profanity and requirements that problems are discussed in private with league officials.
The code charges parents with demonstrating exemplary behavior at all times during Little League activities. Parents should remember the volunteer-status of board members, coaches and managers and respect all officials and players. Little League asks that parents help to keep playing fields safe and clean. Parents agree to refrain from using tobacco, alcohol or drugs in or around Little League functions. Some leagues include parental duties such as picking up children on time, calling in advance about absences and volunteering to help out.
Managers and Coaches
Little League requires managers and coaches to consistently present a professional image, which includes appearance and behavior, during all league activities. The code of conduct calls for league officials to display enthusiasm, respect, honesty and fair play. Managers and coaches must follow all league game rules, encourage appropriate behavior by players and fans, maintain a safe game environment and consider the physical and emotional well-being of players above all else. Some local codes detail the responsibilities of league officials to manage the overall game environment and instill in players the league’s principles. Managers and coaches agree not to use tobacco, drugs or alcohol while involved in league activities.
The Avon Little League, like many local Little Leagues, publishes a code of conduct for parents, coaches and spectators to manage the environment in which Little Leaguers play. The code prohibits unsportsmanlike conduct, disrespect of League officials, unofficial coaching and verbal abuse of players, such as ridicule and booing. Violation of the Avon Little League’s code of conduct results in ejection from the game and could lead to forfeiture by the offending team.
Little League Pledge
Some local Little League programs have players recite The Little League Pledge, which was written in the 1950s and which reiterates acceptable conduct before each game or league function. However, reciting of the pledge has never been a requirement of the Little League organization. The pledge, which has not changed since it was written, is “I trust in God. I love my country and will respect its laws. I will play fair and strive to win, but, win or lose, I will always do my best.”