I had a nice sit-down this morning with John Engh, chief operating officer of the National Alliance for Youth Sports. It's been almost a year since the nonprofit organization introduced the Coach Rating System - a tool that allows parents to provide positive (and negative) feedback to coaches, coaches to discover their own strengths and weaknesses, and program administrators to ensure their coaches are the right men and women for the job. I thought now would be a good time to check in and see how it's going. So far, about 130 NAYS member chapters have taken advantage of the free tool, and initial reaction has been positive. "All of the things that we were focused on in the past - coaches' training, background checks - are still challenges for us," Engh told me. "But now we're trying to draw a parallel between a volunteer coach and an employee." What about those youth sports organizations that already struggle to find coaches? Will they be tempted to set the bar low for coaches who receive negative feedback, worried about creating the need to find a mid-season replacement for a poor-performing coach? "We don't dictate to the leagues what they should do; we give them guidelines for what we think they should do," Engh says. "We're being proactive by saying that this tool is very useful to those coaches who may be borderline. Now all the parents are watching them, and those parents have a voice." Don't worry if your not a NAYS member; Engh says the association is working on ways to get the Coach Rating System out to as many organizations as possible. "If every coach in America is getting evaluated like this 10 years from now, we've done our job."
Former Buccaneers and Colts head coach Tony Dungy made news earlier this week when he was quoted saying he "wouldn't have taken" former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who is openly gay, in the NFL Draft.read more
Editor's note: Look for more Sports Venue Safety articles as we publish a new one online each day this week. Or, view the entire digital issue here.
My first exposures to the issues of safety and security at a sporting event came when I was eight years old. It was at Old Comiskey, back when the Chicago White Sox were "winning ugly" in the American League West. I remember going to at least half a dozen games that year with my father as the White Sox fought for an AL West championship, but that wasn't the only fighting I witnessed. The fights in the stands became as much of a spectacle as the game itself. It got to a point that we never wondered if a fight would break it, but rather when. Though I attended games with my father, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Golden Gloves boxing champion, I never had a complete sense of safety. Still, I was undeterred. I loved going to Old Comiskey and watching the White Sox despite the extracurricular activities.read more