(Youth Sports) A quality youth sports program does not just happen by chance. It occurs through thoughtful planning and a focus on reform, education and accountability. The Recommendations for Communities, released by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) in 2002, was the result of recreation professionals from 34 states across the country who collaborated to create guidelines any community could implement to establish a strong and positive youth sports culture.
Since the Recommendations for Communities were first released, changes have occurred in the youth sports landscape that required NAYS to re-examine the initial guidelines. In 2012 NAYS conducted a Facility Usage Survey of recreation professionals. Results showed an increased prevalence of volunteer youth sports organizations, inconsistent management techniques of volunteer organizations and a lack of control over public facilities, as recreation professionals reported the following:
- 88 percent of public entities have volunteer youth sports organizations utilizing public facilities.
- 92 percent of recreation professionals agree volunteer league administrators/board members would benefit from an education program; however, only 19 percent require it.
- 82 percent of recreation professionals require volunteer coach training for their programs; however, only 48 percent require it of volunteer youth sports organizations using their facilities.
The update to the Recommendations for Communities provides actionable steps to help recreation professionals mend a multitude of problems – like over-aggressive parents, untrained league administrators and win-at-all-cost youth coaches – through a self-assessment exercise for community leaders and recreation professionals, refined tactics for overseeing volunteer youth sports organizations and customizable templates to readily implement recommended procedures.
“Many communities have taken strides to improve their programs through background checks and volunteer training. However, there are many communities and even more independent leagues which have yet to put any measures in place to ensure their programs are safe and fun for participants,” said Marty Johnston, chairman of the board for NAYS. “I firmly believe that the Recommendations for Communities represent practical solutions for resolving the negativity that infects today’s sports programs for children.”