How One Simple Omission Puts the Entire System at Risk
I am generally reticent to give specific risk management advice online. Every club is different and there is no one size fits all solution. People ask for forms, but forms don’t address your specifics. A risk management consultant can start with a template, but it is their expertise that let’s them customize the program to fit the specific needs of your association. Risk management requires an investment of capital and human resources. A program for a 1000 player club may not be feasible for a 200 player club. This is what your consultant understands, and it is the reason that I hesitate to give blanket advice online or in my presentations.
After my last three presentations, though, I am going to make one exception, and I will make it because I think it proves two points. First, it proves that whatever benefits criminal background checks yield, and there are some, there is an equal or greater risk of complacency that comes with the knowledge that those checks are being performed. The second point is just as significant. It proves that there is a reason clubs should rely on risk management professionals, instead of trying a “do it yourself” approach to risk management. We have had background checks in Texas for ten years. The advice I am about to give it so simple, the usual response I get is open mouths or gasps because people realize they have borne this risk for years and years. If this simple procedure hasn’t been implemented in ten years, is it really feasible to think that you can create a functional risk management program by web surfing and forming a committee?
I’ve given two presentations to local clubs and one presentation at a state association meeting in the last month. I offer this hypothetical. Feel free to play along.
I have just moved to town and I call you up to register my kids and offer to volunteer to coach my U12 daughter’s team. Since you need coaches, I ask you what’s the next step.
The consistent answer I have gotten is that I should go online and fill out the “Kidsafe” background check form.
So in the hypothetical, I say I do that and it comes back clean, so what’s the next step?
The consistent answer I have been given is that I will be issued the Kidsafe card and need to display it on the fields and at all games. That’s when I ask the question:
When do you verify that I am the person whose name is on the Kidsafe card (background check)?
Out of more than thirty people in the room for my STYSA presentation, only one association had a procedure to check the Kidsafe background check card against the drivers license or other identification of the coach. This is such a basic procedure, it should be mandated at the state level. People at risk of failing a background check have many ways to circumvent the test. They could provide information from a family member – a brother or cousin with similar age and name. They could access public databases to mine information on a third party. It is imperative that no background check clearances be approved without some person physically matching the information on the clearance to a government issued ID card in the possession of the applicant. And if there is any question, ask for a second form of ID.
The advent of criminal background checks created a false sense of security. The availability of background check services online removed human interaction that could act as an additional screening opportunity. Despite ten years of experience with background checking, the most simple step of confirming that the person coaching is the same person that was criminally checked remains absent in most associations. In this small example, you see the value that a risk management consultant can offer. This simple step is basic, but it is not obvious.
At Placek Consulting, our goal is to help every youth sports association, of every size, develop and implement a risk management program to protect the organization and its participants. Call us at 512-487-RISK if we can help you!