The Little League World Series is upon us again and soon a new champion will be crowned.
Every year in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, sports fans from around the country are treated to a little bit of the lighter side in sports.
And plenty of excitement.
The competition is top-notch and serious, but it’s just nice to see kids be kids and to see kids from other countries be kids too. One of eight U.S. teams and one of eight international teams will meet each other in a single-elimination final. They reach the final as winners of a double-elimination tourney from their own brackets.
ESPN added additional games for broadcast last year. All the games are televised among the family of ESPN/ABC channels.
The LLWS tournament has come a long way since its first television broadcast debut in 1963.
The tournament officially began in 1947. Taiwan/Chinese Taipei has won the most titles, 17. Japan and California are tied for second with 7.
Every state in the U.S. sends a champion of all-stars to compete against all the other states for the chance of making the ‘final 8′ in Williamsport. The tournament did not originally involve international teams, but that changed soon after the tournament started and a team from Mexico won the tournament in 1957. Now, all-star teams from 8 different regions of the world play each other to determine who travels to Williamsport.
The youngsters, ages 11, 12 and 13 years-old, do their best to work their magic around the diamond. There shouldn’t be any sore winners, sore losers, or cheats. The contest is scrutinized closely for integrity due to the international flavor and political ramifications. Fairness is the number one issue.
So, why not soccer?
Organizers should be drooling with anticipation for a Little League World Cup.
Based around some of the same philosophy as the LLWS, states could send a team of all-stars to play each other to see who can make the ‘final 8.’ International teams would then do the same, making it a total of 16 all-star teams, representing 9 countries to face-off for a championship.
In Soccer, there is an Under-17 year old World Cup, but the LLWC would be different not only because of the difference in ages, but also because of the format.
The idea could take off with or without the involvement of the United States Soccer Federation. Additionally, there would have to be two tournaments, one for the boys and one for the girls.
Each tournament would most likely be divided into four groups of four teams: two U.S. groups and two international groups. Group play would be a round-robin format to find the best two teams from each group to send to a single-elimination tourney for the rest of play to determine the winner.
In keeping with the theme of U.S. playing in the final against an international team, the U.S. sides would be on one side of the bracket and the international teams on the other side of the bracket.
Many sites from all over the country would surely like to be hosts of this tournament. There are plenty of tournaments already being hosted throughout the U.S. for youth, but not one quite like a Little League World Cup.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com