Discussion on Little League Titling Draft System

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

When I coached Little League, or Majors Division utilized the "Titling" method of player assignment which meant once a player was drafted to a team they remained on that team throughout their Little League days. Consequently, we had kids we drafted at 10 years-old who we were able to coach for three seasons. Sadly, too many people who were shortsighted (in my opinion), did not understand Titling and felt it gave coaches an unfair advantage (I believe the opposite is true). Now, I am not even sure that Little League still offers Titling as a draft option. If not, that's a shame. But below is the second part of a back-and-forth I had with someone who disagreed with me about my advocacy for Titling. My responses are in italics.

Thanks for the note. I appreciate your enthusiasm as well, and certainly do not judge anyone negatively who volunteers time to develop kids in any way.
My fundamental issue is not abolishing good teams or “blowouts”. Everything you mention in defending titling is coach focused…better coaches, better drafting, etc. When one coach can scout 8 year olds for one reason…to gain a competitive advantage…it’s about that one coach winning, nothing more.

My last, and most important point, was not “coach-focused,” it was player-focused. I believe the leadership aspect of having returning players on a team act as mentors to new players is a great benefit. That would be missing in a re-draft situation when all kids are new. Also, in a re-draft situation if a coach picks a young player who turns out to be less than expected on the ability side, he knows he only has to deal with him for one year, and then he’ll throw him back in the draft and he’ll be someone else’s problem. However, if he knows he is going to have that player for the duration of his LL career, there is much more incentive to work with and develop him – another huge advantage titling brings to kids, not coaches.

And, I don’t understand your illustration of the coach scouting a kid when he’s eight. What does that have to do with titling or re-drafting? Sure, that is an aggressive manager who wants to win, but he can scout and pick that kid no matter what the draft system, correct? And doesn’t everyone else in the draft room have the same right to select him?

Redrafting ensures the best chance for competitive balance in leagues where coaching is inherently inconsistent. Competitive balance ensures kids are learning to deal with both winning and losing, not one or the other.
Again, I disagree. Simply making that statement without supporting evidence does not make it true. Take a look at your Minors division for the past several years where there has been a re-draft. Some teams won a lot of games and some lost a lot of games. As I illustrated, my league went to a re-draft and there was a dramatic difference between first and last place.

The mission statement explicitly fails to mention winning or losing because they are not part of the goal…they are byproducts of the other stated missions.
Right. So how does this mission statement support an argument that one draft system is more fair than another due to wins and losses?

I don’t see the relation. I could lose every game as a coach but still teach valuable lessons and develop superior citizens. I don’t have to have a winning or even competitive team to do that.

Professional leagues prosper with systems that promote parity. My only point is that when a child in our league is drafted to 2/3 of the teams, they know they will not win in any year they are in that league. That is fundamentally flawed.

My guess is that means that 1/3 of the teams have more experienced coaches and no matter what the draft system, those coaches are going to have better teams. And again, if they are winning every year, aren’t they all drafting last every year? So how can titling be an advantage to them? Eventually, those last place draft picks catch up and they have a weak team.

How do you justify 2 teams being so lopsided in terms of talent that they are 51-1 against the rest of the league?

That was this year. They were very good teams and probably two very good coaches who likely would have won most of their games if all the names had been drawn out of a hat. They’re going to lose many of those players next year, have to draft last next spring, and they probably won’t be as dominant. I’ll bet those coaches, if all they were concerned about was winning, would look at the players they were losing, who they had coming back, and would support a full redraft because they’d know that next season they’d have a better chance to pick a great team and dominate again. But, if they’re like me, they’d rather have a mediocre team next year and keep the kids they’d grown fond of so they could see them through their Little League experience.

You’ve obviously considered this issue and I don’t suppose my arguments are going to change your opinion…but thankfully LLBB continues to move more in this direction.

I believe it is unfortunate that LL continues to move in this direction and is based on ignorance. As I wrote in my article, one year when our board was discussing whether or not to maintain titling, a board member whose son had been on a team with a losing record all three years he played in Majors told us that on the way to the meeting she mentioned to her son she was going to make a case for a overturning titling. He shocked her by telling her titling is the only way to go. All she saw was other teams getting championship trophies and thought that was what the experience was about. Her son had a deeper understanding. It is always a shame when parents spoil things for their children based on their own wants and needs, not the kids’.

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