Millions of children in the US play organized sports. The benefits of athletic activities are many and varied. Children learn discipline, responsibility, respect and good sportsmanship. They can also develop self confidence and positive self image while acquiring coordination and other physical skills.
Parents and guardians can do many things to protect their children and assure that their experience is positive and productive. Parents and guardians should have expectations about the coach and the program, just as you do when you send your kids off to school. There is a tendency to lower expectations is sporting as many sports are run by volunteers, but this should not be done. Good intentions and a willingness to spend time with children just aren’t enough when you are talking about the safety and well-being of kids. Parents need to understand that most of the people who help and volunteer truly care about children and mean them no harm. The risk comes in the small percentage who see the coaching experience as an opportunity to gain access to children for the purpose of exploiting them. Couple that with trust, respect and authority that coaching implies, you can see how this combination can betray the true intent of helping kids in sports.
Without elaborating, here is a short summary of things to ask. Open the line of communication between you, your child and the coach and make your presence known. If you are ever unsure, follow your instincts and dive deeper to seek advice and council on how to keep your child’s sporting experiences safe and fun.
Does the sports or youth organization do background checks?
What is the coaches philosophy about winning and sportsmanship?
Are there other adults that supervise off-site travel?
Do children use a locker room to dress and do they share this with adults?
Do you as a parent or guardian have input into the sporting activity?
Does the coach promise to make your child a champion player or want to spend time alone with your child outside of scheduled team activities or events?
Do you as a parent or guardian talk to your child about how he or she likes the coach or sport?
Remember also that Fighting Spirit Safety is a great resource for help, not just in your area, but as a referral source around the country.