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Sporting Matters



with: Jamie Spencer

One of the biggest and most anticipated changes in amateur sports history is soon approaching. On January 1st, Little League Baseball will adhere to a brand new bat standard. This major move will require all Little Leaguers to follow the strict new guidlines established by USABat. It's a big deal kids, and Little League's decision will certainly turn some heads. Drum roll, please. 
According to the new standard — NO baseball bat previously approved for Little League play will be permitted in any future practices or games. That's every Little League function, event, or activity. They are all banned. Old bats. New bats. Jensen's three bats. It doesn't matter. Everyone MUST buy a NEW bat in order to play Little League Baseball in 2018. Even you Dorn. #majorleague. 
My eight-year-old son currently has three decent bats that we were hoping to give away. Perhaps my young nephew just up the street could've swung one someday. But that has since changed. USABat says that these bats are illegal. So what are we going to do now? There are no trade-in or buy-back programs established. Hmm. Looks like they will all end up at Staimens. #recycle. #thatsalotofsteel. 
Bats compliant with the new USABat standard will be clearly marked with a STAMP. You can't duplicate them either. My buddies and I have already tried. Yes, you might want to ask Santa for a new baseball bat instead of that Xbox game. Everyone will need a new one by next spring. 
Feel free to read the original release and the frequently asked questions on Little League's website. I apologize that I can't include the link. #copyright. I did find the wording to be quite entertaining. The new standards will actually "dampen" or lessen the pop and the 2018 models will hit more like wood bats. That's the goal. Little League believes that a wood-like performance standard will best provide and protect the "integrity of the game." I have no idea what that actually means, but man it sure sounds good on paper. 
Little League did their very best to get the word out some two years ago, but the major bat manufacturers like Easton and Louisville Slugger will continue to grow xponentially. I mean two million Little Leaguers across the globe are now in the market to buy a new bat. Good Lord. SO HERBIE WANTS TO BE A DENTIST. Well, it will have to wait because every elf will be tied up until Christmas. #rudolph. 
Prices vary too. I've seen bats marked anywhere from $349.95 to $29.95. Big business. So why is there such a difference in price? Aren't these new 2018 USAbats supposed to meet the same guidelines and standards? #letmegetmymanager. 
LL International employs several of my friends, and I've enjoyed our conversations on this topic throughout the summer. They also know that I am one of their biggest fans and advocates too. #lastweekssermon.
I totally understand why Little League would adopt a new policy. The technology changes daily and little kids are now hitting towering fly balls with check swings. It's downright scary. The bats of today can do some serious damage. I simply cringe every time Jensen takes the mound. 
But nothing is mentioned about changing the standards because of player's safety. In fact, no one will even comment. 
IS SAFETY A REASON FOR THIS CHANGE? No. Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants. #18a. 
Look ALL organized sports are already suffering. Athletic participation for kids ages six through 12 is down an alarming eight percent nationally over the past decade. Raising fees and forcing folks to purchase NEW equipment isn't going to help matters either. Perhaps next week I will take a closer look and give you a few more reasons why our youth sports are on the decline. But until then, I will do my best to provide and protect the "integrity of the game." Cheers.