June 21, 2013

Participation trophies axed to cut Little League cost

Adam Troxtell
Guest Columnist

CHICKASHA — Players between the ages of 5 and 9 that play in the t-ball and machine pitch Chickasha Little League divisions will not receive end of year participation trophies in a move to cut costs.

Trophies will be provided by the league to 10-12 year olds that play in the “major” – or kid pitch – division on the first and second place teams when their league ends next week. The move to axe participation trophies for the younger aged players ends a years-long tradition kids taking home a trophy simply for playing in Chickasha Little League that started before current president Bruce McGrew began his tenure four years ago.

“Somewhere along the line, before my time with Little League, they decided to give everyone a trophy,” McGrew said. “When I took over, that was the case and I decided to keep it going, thinking later we would be able to find other ways to bring in revenue, such as fundraisers.”

But, McGrew, who like many Little League officials is strictly a volunteer, said getting parents, coaches and players on board for fundraisers has become more difficult than he and other Little League officials first imagined. So, having a league-sponsored trophy day has been scrapped in lieu of other budget shifting methods, McGrew said.

“We haven’t raised sign-up fees in years,” he said. “It’s been $45 since I’ve been there. Our goal is to keep it as low as possible so more can play. I think $45 is a good price, but it can be difficult for a single parent with two or three kids. Three months of baseball for $45, I still think it’s a bargain.”

But many parents have said they don’t see how their $45 isn’t enough to buy trophies they believe incentivize their kids to play better and keep coming back.

“I think this is unacceptable,” Joshua Huffines, a concerned parent, said in response to a question posted on the Express-Star Facebook page. “Not only does each parent pay a fee, the sponsor businesses do as well. I am also curious as to where the money is going. Sounds like poor leadership in the organization. Thanks little league for failing my son and disappointing him as well.”

In a season marred by untimely rain and cancellations, mother Ebony McFadden said she believes participation trophies are the least the league could do.

“My children look forward to their trophy as much as playing the game,” Heather Kierson Bottoms said. “This year so many games were lost to rain so umpires went un-needed. Where is the money? I am sad for my boys and angry this was not announced until the end of the season.”

Funding Chickasha Little League is not as budget friendly as it used to be, McGrew said.

For the full story, see the Weekend June 22-23 edition of the Express-Star.