I wish all sports had the same combination of sportsmanship and awesome swag that Little League does. These kids work extremely hard to make it to tournaments in the height of summer, travel across the country, battle and work together, building important skills that will serve them as adults, AND have the single coolest pre and post game ritual: trading pins!
By March every year our company starts getting flooded with phone calls and email requests for artwork for these amazing pins, and it’s full-steam ahead then until the very last minute. So what are trading pins exactly? They’re almost bigger than a bread box, full of color, glitter, dangling pieces, sliding pieces, ferocious mascots, blinking lights and very cool team names. From the Waterford Wolverines, to the Charlotte Crush, to the Georgia Chili Dogs, these teams are jam packed with team spirit and rad designs. Trading pin season is one of my favorite times of year.
The tradition goes as follows: each team player is given between 50 and 100 each of their own trading pins, and before tournaments with teams and afterwards, win or lose, these teams will trade pins with each other. Tournaments will host dozens of teams so players have plenty of opportunities to trade, and if they are outgoing enough, will leave with one of their own pins left and a bag full of other teams’ trading pins that will then be displayed on a cork board or inside of a shadow box on returning home.
It’s a cool tradition that encourages teams to remain friends after games, regardless of the outcome, and to value the relationships and memories made as much as winning the game. As adults we get so hung up on the competition that we don’t appreciate creativity and camaraderie in sports as much, and that’s a shame. I’d like the NBA to start trading pins with each other after a game, or the NFL. Super Bowl rings: pah. Let’s get some trading pins in there.