Well, it’s that time of year again.
It’s District 20 tournament season.
As District 20 tournament play opens tonight with the Little League Softball tournament at Strouss Park in Mendota, I can’t help but wonder, where have all the city all-star teams gone?
While looking through the brackets the last few days to plan our coverage, I’ve discovered an alarmingly low number of teams, especially beyond the district level.
Of the brackets available online, only one District 20 tournament — 9-10 baseball — has double-digit teams.
The other younger levels of baseball — 10-11 and 11-12 — have decent numbers, but older levels of baseball and all of the softball divisions have a pretty low number.
None of the District 20 softball tournaments have more than six teams competing.
At the section level, the majority of brackets I’ve looked up involve only two teams. A handful have three.
What is the point of a tournament involving just two teams? It certainly lessens the meaning of winning the banner.
Obviously, this is not a new issue.
Participation in city league baseball and softball has been low for years with the rise of travel baseball and AAU softball.
The problem won’t be going away anytime soon with more and more travel teams being formed and those travel teams playing more games.
So the question becomes, what should Little League do to keep its tournaments competitive and meaningful?
Maybe Little League should consolidate sections — dropping from five to four — to put more teams in those tournaments?
Or perhaps the organization should go a step further and reduce the number of districts — from 20 to 16 — and also consolidate sections?
It is a difficult issue to tackle.
But the organization needs to adapt to the times or do something about this glaring problem.
Got story ideas?
With high school sports on hiatus until mid-August, we’re taking time to focus on other areas of local athletics with several summer series.
On Mondays, we’re running “The Good in Sports” series, which will feature local people who volunteer, do work behind the scenes, etc.
We’re running a question and answer series on Wednesdays with area people connected to sporting events or issues.
And on Friday’s we’re catching up with former area stars with our “Where Are They Now?” series.
If you know anybody who you think should be featured in any of these series — or have any other story ideas — please feel free to email us or calls us with the contact information below.
We always welcome story suggestions.
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.