Guest Column - November 2006
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Mandated Training and Accountability

National Alliance for Youth Sports

By Sarah Christy

ervasive problems in youth sports such as unruly parents and a pressure-filled, win-at-all-costs environment—issues identified in the report card on the state of youth sports by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance—can be attributed to insufficient training and a lack of accountability among volunteer coaches and parents. These problems can be remedied in part with training and educational programs mandated at the community and state levels.

"While it is great that individuals and organizations such as the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance are investigating and outlining the problems in youth sports, the National Alliance For Youth Sports is working hard to combat these problems with training and accountability," said Alliance CEO and Founder Fred Engh. The National Alliance For Youth Sports (NAYS), a nonprofit organization, has been offering training and educational programs that improve the youth sports experience since 1981.

Park and recreation organizations and other groups at the community and state levels must mandate training for volunteer youth sports workers as well as parents, as many of those involved in youth sports are uneducated about their roles and responsibilities.

"In the last 60 years, we have built here in the United States a total of 90,000 publicly financed facilities in which children play organized youth sports," Engh said. "Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of youth sports programs are run by volunteer coaches and administrators with no training or standards to which they are held, so the children suffer."

It's high time for improvements.

"If we are going to make changes in youth sports," Engh explained, "local and state park and recreation departments must take a firm stand on this issue and require the volunteers who are running these programs in their facilities to receive proper training and be held accountable for their actions."