Running a sports league is a lot like running a business; it works better when you have policies and processes in place! That way everyone is aware of what’s happening, what is expected of them and how to react in various circumstances. And even though your league has been around for decades, it’s never a bad idea to revisit some of your policies and make sure they are up-to-date! Especially considering how things in our society change, you might need to create brand new policies!
Here are 3 policies your league needs to have in place no matter what:
1. Mandatory background checks for every employee/volunteer.
It’s tempting for league managers to let their guard down because many coaches are volunteers, parents or guardians; people we know and trust. And although it’s true that most coaches truly care about children and are no risk to them, there are a small percentage who will use the coaching platform as a means to gain access to children for the purpose of victimizing them. Background checks should be done on all employees, staff, volunteers and others who will have any kind of responsibility for or contact with the players! While this isn’t a fool-proof security measure, it will help keep a lot of would-be predators out of your league.
2. Codes of conduct for coaches and parents.
We’ve all heard of “those” sports parents (and coaches) that scream and swear and get into fights over a Little League game. A league wide code of conduct that coaches and parents have to sign at the BEGINNING of the season helps you enforce rules should anyone get out of hand later down the road. For instance, if a parent or coach gets into a physical altercation the penalty could be immediate removal from the field and they are banned for the rest of the season. If a coach fails to show up to more than three practices throughout the season they should be replaced and not allowed to coach next season. Remember, when the parents and coaches get out of hand or don’t follow through on their commitments it’s actually the athletes that suffer. One soccer coach actually created his own team code of conduct that actually punishes the player when their parent gets out of hand.
3. Social media communication rules.
While communicating with dozens of players and parents can get a little complicated (that’s why we created TeamWALL), you have to decide if your coaches are allowed to communicate with their players via social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Are they allowed to be “friends” with their players through their personal accounts or do everything have to pass through a team Facebook page that parents (and you) also have direct access too? Can they ONLY use a team email account that you create for them? Again, we never want to think our friends and community member might engage in inappropriate behavior with players, but it’s important that everything stay as above board as possible.