Guest Column - November 2006
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Mandated Training and Accountability

National Alliance for Youth Sports

By Sarah Christy

While there are big-picture problems in youth sports, many organizations and youth sports leagues at the community level are, in fact, working to overcome those issues.

"We are finding that an increasing number of park and recreation associations and other youth sports organizations are focusing their efforts on improving the youth sports experience, implementing programs that train and educate the major players in youth sports, including coaches, parents, officials and administrators," Engh said.

NAYS has developed training programs for those involved in youth sports, including the Parents Association For Youth Sports (PAYS) and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), to combat the problems in youth sports that threaten to harm children emotionally, mentally and even physically. The PAYS program promotes understanding between coaches, kids and parents, while NYSCA is designed to sensitize volunteer coaches to their roles and responsibilities, and hold them accountable to a strict code of ethics.

This code of ethics is strictly enforced: More than 100 coaches have been banned from membership in NYSCA for behavior considered detrimental to young athletes. Currently, more than 3,000 community-based organizations offer the NYSCA program to coaches of 11 different sports.

"Quite simply, the major problems in youth sports can be overcome if all volunteer coaches and parents commit to improving and educating themselves, and if more organizations require them to do so," Engh said. "Youth sports organizations are only limited in what they can do by their hesitation to take a stand and implement the highest rules and standards when it comes to the well-being of children."


Sarah Christy is director of public relations for the National Alliance For Youth Sports, which is celebrating 25 years of being one of America's leading advocates for positive and safe sports for children. For more information, visit