Let's Talk Safety - all of us...
posted by: Jim Kelly, COO & VP of Product, Safety Tag
posted on: August 20, 2018
(post also appeared on LeagueApps (when ready))
Let’s talk about Safety – all of us…
The time is now to talk safety with each member of your sports community – players, parents, coaches, and league admins. And those conversations need to be focused on WHY safety is a top priority…
As we begin some grueling sports, it’s important to review that safety is not only stretching, strength, and hydration – it is much more about awareness, training, and compliance. While it is important to drink water, and to run that extra lap, it is just as critical for players, parents, coaches, and league admins to know which kids have asthma, have had concussions, who failed the heads-up tackling exam, and which coach did not complete a background check. Coaches need to know which kids have ailments; parents need to be able to report them without the threat of reduced playing time, or not being believed… League admins, facility owners, and coaches need to be willing to mandate Sexual Abuse Prevention Training to all coaches and volunteers – and willing to be sure everyone participates. It is up to all of us to do more to create safer environments for our children, which will ultimately create the best environment where they can grow, compete, and excel.
Here’s a checklist of things we suggest you do now – don’t wait, it’s Safety:
For Kids and Parents:
- Discuss safety, explain what the environment SHOULD be.
- Tell your kids what happened elsewhere, and why it should not happen – it’s not normal
- Tell them it is OK to report something if they see it, hear of it, or just suspect it
- Explain to them HOW to report something (Do you have a way to report??)
- Don’t over-train, play multiple positions to learn about the game
- Pay attention to the weather, show them how to check it (app)
- Get your background checks – click here if you need one. (free if you do it within 24hrs of this post)
- Put safety above competition, above winning. Review your roster’s medical conditions, be sure you know who has asthma, allergies, diabetes, a heart murmur, or had a concussion in the last year.
- Teach the kids how to love the game, not just how to play
- Remind them why we play – passion, pride, and performance (John Wodden)
- Know the consequences – if you mess with a kid, there is nothing worse – and you’ll do time. (link to law)
For League Admins:
- Promote an environment of Zero Tolerance
- Tell all employees, coaches, staff, volunteers they are being watched, there are consequences – criminal consequences
- Tell the coaches its OK to discuss the tough topics, and what happened elsewhere
- Educate them …
- Train them…
- Invite us (ST) in for a session
- Review the headlines
- This is where it happened / this is where is was allowed to happen
Leveling the Field…
Safety is also a demographical issue. Much less obvious, but very apparent, is the fact that privatization of youth sports is creating environments where safety is secondary. We see it regularly where underserved Rec Leagues are left to their own devices to cover the basics of safety and compliance.
As a group interested in expanding the horizons the children who participate in our sporting organizations, its equally important that we recognize and address the ever-growing costs of participation. Privatization is critical to increase the level of play, for sure, and that trend has remarkable market grip at the moment; but this same trend could be a short term gain, as it is cannibalizing the competitive landscape by creating a barrier to others with potential but do not have the means to play in the private league or club. At the same time, their local rec league is being threatened by thin[ner] budgets due to reduced participation and the elimination of school-based programs and government budgets to subsidize rec leagues. This very trend also forces the “talented” and/or interested coaches into the private leagues / clubs, and pulls focus and opportunity away from some of our highest potential.
The “pull” of role models away from the less able groups invites a lack of oversight into volunteer orgs / rec leagues – through lack of means, not lack of care. Such as the inability to perform $21 background checks, or to adapt/communicate/monitor a Code of Conduct out to 55 coaches and volunteers; which indirectly invites predators into those orgs as coaches, volunteers, or allows injuries to go untreated / unreported. Lack of means should not threaten safety or opportunity for kids. Care, safety, technique, and competition should not owned – they come from hard work.
Tom Farrey’s recent article suggests directing tax revenue derived from pro sports betting to rec leagues, state by state, starting with those who need it most. I think this is a brilliant concept – one that Norway apparently has perfected (Read Tom’s Article here).
Philanthropy clearly has a role, as we have seen firsthand at Safety Tag, where Under Armour supported our service to one the nation’s oldest little leagues, the James Mosher League in inner city Baltimore. UA’s philanthropy team allowed us to serve Mosher with or full suite of services, a league who otherwise would not have been able to engage in modern safety measures now has a platform for Safety Profiles, BG Checks, Abuse Prevention Training.
Add a spot…
I will leave you with a simpler idea. Lets each reserve 2 spots on our private club/league, which might regularly cost $250+ per spot; lets leave those 2 spots open for someone who may not otherwise realize or be aware your organization as an opportunity for them. Lets cover the registration costs – and lets be sure the environment they step into is safe and compliant. The environment we want for our children, for ourselves, and for our those who have the ability to make sport a place of triumph, not of tragedy.
Safety Tag is a technology platform focused on Safety & Compliance in Athletics, Schools, and all related organizations/facilities. We deliver our product and consultative services to help be sure all of our clients are able to achieve our Vision: to Create a Safer Environment.
Jim Kelly is COO & VP of Product, Safety Tag Network, Inc.
If we can help you, please contact me directly, or contact us at Safety Tag: CLICK HERE FOR MORE.