Football Coach Arrested for Assault of Player: Is It a Field Safety Issue?

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Field Safety, Players, Training, Volunteer Management

In Mapleton, Utah, a parent’s, coaches, and youth league’s worst nightmares have come together in an incident that has resulted in the arrest of the coach for allegedly assaulting an opposing player during a game.  The video can be viewed here, along with an editorial about the incident.  The circumstances that led to this incident are fairly undisputed.  The player was running a sweep around the left side of the line and ran out of bounds.  The coach, was standing on the sideline, right where the player was headed, and raised his arms as the player approached.  The player ran into his arm, was knocked to the ground, got up and continued playing the remainder of the game.  After the game, the child’s mother took the child to the hospital, but no injury was found.  County level prosecutors declined to charge the coach due to lack of an injury.  However, the city attorney stepped in and filed charges himself.

There is much debate over whether any crime occurred, what the coach’s intention was, and whether the coach’s actions were instinctive, protective or aggressive.  Regardless of the existence or non-existence of a criminal act, a civil lawsuit against the coach and the league remains a possibility.  Claims of assault can be litigated civilly as well as criminally.  However, a view of the video shows what should be a concern for the association as well.  Football fields, like soccer fields, contain designated areas outside the field of play where teams and coaches are permitted to stand.  The video shows that many coaches and players were outside of the designated area and right up against the sideline.  If the coach and team had remained in the designated area, this incident probably never happens.  Imagine the potential exposure to the league if a substitute was seriously injured in a sideline collision because the coach did not keep his team in the designated area.

This incident speaks to issues of training for both the coaches and the game officials.  Clearly, a lax attitude toward the enforcement of “bench area” boundaries existed in the league.  Three different coaches appear in the video outside of the bench area, along with numerous players.  Did the league have a site monitor to assist in game management?  Had the referees made any effort to enforce compliance?  It is tempting to treat technical areas/bench areas as annoyances or guidelines that can be disregarded with little or no consequence.  However, this situation shows exactly why an association should be diligent about enforcing rules that potentially impact player safety.

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Transportation Policies: Cheerleading Coach Arrested for Sexual Battery

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Molestation, News, Volunteer Management

Does your club have a policy detailing in what circumstances coaches or other volunteers can provide transportation to players to and from practices or games? What about transportation for out of town trips? Rides to and from practices or games provide the opportunity for a volunteer to isolate a young player and place them in a dangerous situation.

The potential hazards of volunteer provided transportation were highlighted by a recent arrest in Florida. A 27 year old cheerleading coach is alleged to have offered a girl a ride to and from practice. On the way home, he stopped the car, got in the back seat and invited her to join him. The police allege that when she refused, he forced her into the back and sexually assaulted her. The investigation revealed a second cheerleader who has accused the coach of engaging in sexual conduct with her from the ages of 14 to 16. Read the full story here.

Development of strong child protections policies address issues including transportation.  Sound risk management requires not only developing the policies, but also assuring their enforcement.  Let Placek Consulting review your existing policies, or help you put together a complete risk management plan.

Sharing Information Between Clubs – The Case of the Fired Gymnastics Coach

Written by PC News on . Posted in Coaches, Volunteer Management, Volunteer Screening

One of the great unaddressed issues in youth sports risk management is how we share information about “problem” volunteers and employees. This problem is perhaps highlighted by the recent arrest of an Oregon gymnastics coach.

According to the Mail-Tribune, a gymnastics coach, who doubled as a sports photographer, was arrested and charged with encouraging child sexual abuse and invasion of privacy after a search of his home turned up photographs of young gymnasts in various states of undress. According to the report, the suspect would videotape his photo shoot subjects in the changing room. He was discovered in conjunction with an investigation for downloading child pornography.

The article also reports that the suspect had worked at another gymnastics school and been terminated. The owner of the school refused to answer questions about the reason for his termination saying he was “was fired from SOGA on April 23, 2008 for reasons that were never disclosed… We cannot speak about the charges against [the suspect] and how they pertain to SOGA at this time, per the request of the lead detective.” The article indicates that he was hired with at least one more school, and continued his photography business after this time. He also had previously worked as a coach in southern California. While we don’t know the nature of the initial termination, the silence of the first employer raises questions. Was there information that would have led another school not to hire him? Could sharing information have prevented the crimes he is accused of?

State and national governing bodies should be looking to facilitate information sharing between their affiliate members. This is particularly important in an increasingly mobile society. A local club may terminate a problem volunteer, but without sufficient information sharing, that volunteer may become a problem, and a threat, to another nearby club. Ask Placek Consulting how we can help you achieve this goal.

Read the original story here. Mail