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November 8, 2016
Protect Youth Sports with Background Checks
When was the last time you saw that a sports player, coach, or fan had acted so inappropriately at a game that he or she made the news? Probably not so long ago, particularly since we’re in the middle of football season. In fact, I read a story just last month about a coach being arrested for attacking a referee during a game -- a youth game.
From football to soccer to hockey and more, sports are a pastime beloved by people of all ages, and yet the industry can’t seem to get away from employment scandals. Media reports of inappropriate behavior by coaches and involved adults alike draw negative press and can even put players in danger.
Sporting events aren’t meant to breed violence or throw people into dangerous situations, especially when children are involved. They are supposed to be strategic and physical contests between players, and even provoke a sense of fun. So how can we encourage friendly competition while keeping kids safe?
Improving Safety in Youth Sports
Child athletes are more vulnerable than adult players, and this means that inappropriate adult actions are less acceptable and more loudly abhorred by the public. However, youth sports teams are not regulated by any singular federal body, so parents and players rely on leaders and coordinators to create and follow rules that will provide for the safety of child athletes.
Luckily, sports associations and schools across the nation are recognizing the importance of strictly vetting all adults involved in youth sports. From coaches to volunteers to chaperones, adults trying to work with youth sports in any way are being screened more thoroughly as schools and youth sports associations seek to reduce the risk of putting child athletes in danger.
A comprehensive background screening for adults trying to work in youth sports should include, at a minimum:
- Criminal history search – Candidates should be screened in more than just their current
jurisdiction of residence. A candidate could easily have a violent record in a jurisdiction where
he or she previously lived, and too narrow of a criminal search may miss that record and
endanger the players.
- Sex offender search – All adults working with or around children should be vetted against the
national sex offender registry. A multi-state criminal history search can also help uncover
sexually-based offenses that may not make it into a registry.
- Drug test – Adults who work with children cannot effectively promote safety while under the
influence of drugs. Coaches and other adults in youth sports should have to pass a drug test
before beginning work with children.
If any adults will be driving youth to events or matches, they should also have their driving history checked to ensure they have a good record of safe practices on the road.
Additionally, a single background check at the time of hire isn’t enough to ensure that the adults working with children will remain qualified to do so. Coaches, volunteers, and other adults working in youth sports should be re-screened annually to verify that they continue to pose no foreseeable threat to the children’s’ safety.
Budget Background Checks for Youth Sports
Unfortunately, some sports league and school districts simply cannot afford to conduct comprehensive screening on every adult involved with youth sports. They may cut corners in the background checking process and conduct only a single statewide or jurisdiction search of candidates, which could fail to discover violent or inappropriate records in other states.
That’s why it’s important to ensure your league or team enlists the assistance of a professional background screener with extensive sports league experience. While professional background checks are often costlier than discount online services, professional checks are more accurate, compliant, and better protect both your team and your organization.
InfoMart is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and has a long legacy of working with youth sports and volunteer organizations. We can create a custom screening package that improves on your screening process while maintaining cost-efficiency.
Does your local youth sports program conduct comprehensive background screenings? Share with us on social media!