If we could give just one rule for every youth sports association to put in place for child protection, it would be this: no texting/messaging between the coaches and the kids. Kids are kids; parents are parents. Any matter dealing with teams, practices, performance, extra training, conflicts and the like are appropriately channeled through the parents. If the coach’s concern can’t be addressed face to face in a public setting, then the only proper route to go is through the parent. Reviewing the reports of arrests and convictions reported over the past few years, there are very few incidents that do not involve either texting or interaction on social media. The prevalence of this common denominator in player solicitation and abuse, by itself, should prompt action from the national and state governing bodies to address this problem. Once the rules are in place, then educate the parents and the players to know that such contact is inappropriate and should be reported immediately. Terminate coaches who fail to comply. There simply is no excuse.
In Tennessee, a 26 year old coach has been arrested for solicitation of a 14 year old player on his softball team. (Full Story Here). In a matter of weeks, the texts from the coach changed from conversation about softball, to asking her to sneak out to meet him, to asking for a kiss and requesting photos. Another news report states that there “were also messages suggesting they have intercourse.” The texts were discovered by the mother, reported to the police and the coach was arrested and charged with solicitation of a minor.
This pattern repeats itself not only in youth sports cases, but in many of the well publicized cases involving public school teachers and their students. The handwriting is on the wall. The threat is well known. Youth sports associations that fail to act to adopt policies prohibiting private electronic communication between coaches and players run a great risk of being found negligent, if not grossly negligent, for failing to protect their players from predator coaches.