I was looking around the web trying to catch up on the latest happenings with youth baseball news and ran across a very interesting FAQ post on Baseball USA website. I had never really given much thought to how league ages were determined but found Baseball USA explanation to be interesting. Here is a copy and paste of their answers to those FAQ.
Q: What exactly does "age determination date" mean?
The age determination date is a league or federation specified date that players must be of a certain age in order to be eligible to participate in a particular age group. There is a domestic age determination date and an international age determination date.
Q: What is the difference between the domestic age determination date and the international age determination date?
The domestic age determination date is a fixed date that regulates the eligibility of players in most organized leagues in the United States.
The international age determination date is a fixed date that regulates the eligibility of players in IBAF or COPABE sanctioned tournaments.
The domestic age determination date and the international determination date are not the same.
Q: What is the current international age determination date?
The current international age determination date states your birthday must fall on January 1 or later of a specified year to be eligible for particular age groups. The age a player reaches during the calendar year of the international competition will serve as his competition age.
(For example, if your son/daughter wants to play on the 18U National team in 2010, he/she must be 18 years old or younger during the entire calendar year. If your son/daughter would turn 19 on December 1 of 2010, he/she would not be eligible to participate with the 18U National Team because his/her competition age would be 19, regardless of his/her age during the time of the tournament.)
Q: What is the current domestic age determination date?
The current domestic age determination date is April 30 of the current year. The age of a baseball player as of April 30 is that player's "league age" for the season.
(For example, if your son/daughter would like to play in the 12U division of a USA Baseball National Member Organization, he/she must be 12 or younger before April 30 of the current year. If your son/daughter would turn 13 on April 29, he/she would not be eligible to participate with the 12 year old group.)
Q: Which age determination date does USA Baseball adhere to?
The USA Baseball National Teams must adhere to the rules of international governance as it pertains to age restrictions in international competition. These rules are different than the domestic age determination date for USA Baseball. The IBAF and COPABE use the calendar year - January 1 - to differentiate the various age groups for international play.
Q: What are the international age determination dates for each USA Baseball program?
For 2010, the international age determination date dictates:
2010 18U National Team - to be eligible, your birthday is January 1, 1992, or later
2010 16U National Team - to be eligible, your birthday is January 1, 1994, or later
2010 14U National Team - to be eligible, your birthday is January 1, 1996, or later
Q: What was the reason for the change of the domestic determination age in baseball?
The primary reason to change the domestic determination age is so most players on a team will spend the majority of the regular season at the same chronological age as their league age. Currently, more than 95 percent of all local Little League programs start their seasons before May 1.
Under the old regulation, a baseball player who turned 13 in May, June or July of the current year would have been considered league-age 13 for that entire season. That would be the case, despite the fact that such a player likely would have played most or all of the regular season (which generally ends in June) without having actually reached his or her 13th birthday. Under the current regulation, such a player will have a league age of 12 throughout the regular season.
Q: How much research and thought went into changing the domestic age determination date?
More than four years of study went into the decision to change the domestic determination age, along with years of discussions with volunteers at the local level. Input from individuals after the initial announcement of the change also was taken into consideration.
Q: Is USA Baseball the only organization making this change?
No. Most youth baseball organization members under the jurisdiction of USA Baseball have adopted the April 30 age determination date.
Q: Does this change in domestic age determination mean that one age group will have to "skip" a year and move up sooner?
No, the change in domestic determination age does not mean one age group will have to skip a year. Every player in all divisions will still have the opportunity to have one full season each year at each age group. No player will be forced to "move up" any sooner than he/she would have under the old league age determination date.
I found some of their responses to be very interesting. For example why would the international age determination dates be different than the domestic * US * determination age cutoff dates? Even USA Baseball selects its players based on the international cutoff date.
Why would the international standards be set at Jan 1 while US standards would be Apr 30. Also after looking in to this a little deeper I also found that girls softball has a cutoff age determination date of Dec 31. Why the two standards for boys and girls. Girls mature faster than boys so what is the logic behind determining their cutoff date.
USA Baseball had stated that by making the league age cutoff date Apr 30 it would allow players to play in their own chronological age group for most of the year in the US. However based on my weak math skills LOL it would seem that the international age determination dates Jan 1 would be more chronologically correct for both girls and boys.
Thought this might be a good discussion with some very varying views so I wanted to post it.