INDIANOLA, Iowa — For the last 67 years, the Indianola Little League has been teaching the game of baseball, but a battle between board members could seal its fate.
This fall, two I.L.L. board members resigned over what they call a push to drop Little League baseball in favor of a more competitive, more expensive “travel league” affiliated with the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA).
The parents of many Indianola Little League players are concerned that will mean less opportunity for their kids to play, and perhaps, a loss of community, as many of the teams that would use the baseball complex in Indianola would be visiting from out of town.
“I believe they want to take this complex and use it for the USSSA team that three board members are affiliated with,” says Little League parent, Emily Fox.
Though the board denies this, it’s not enough for Fox.
“I don’t believe them,” she says, flatly.
Bill Fox, who resigned his position on the board due to this dispute, says the remaining members don’t have a real plan for what happens next and aren’t considering the effect this move will have on children whose families aren’t committed to the rigors and expense of USSSA baseball— “travel ball.”
“(The board is) telling half-truths,” he says. “They’re saying they’re gonna have a rec league and a competitive league. What they’re not saying is that’s splitting the Little League group of kids apart. The kids who can’t afford or aren’t able to play travel ball on the weekends, they’re gonna be stuck with a smaller pool to play against.”
Fox says his own children have played USSSA baseball (which typically holds games on weekends only), and that it’s a league better suited to players whose families have extra time, money, and interest in traveling around the state and Midwest to play in tournaments.
He says Little League gives players without those means a chance to still enjoy baseball, and even play in high school.
“Just because you can pay to play on the weekend doesn’t mean you should be the one that gets to play on the high school field,” he says.
While current board leadership declined to speak with WHO 13 on camera, they did issue a statement saying in part, “A league affiliation change would have minimal effects on our Indianola baseball families.”
The board is expected to vote in closed session Wednesday night on whether to drop Indianola’s Little League affiliation.