Batter Up: 3 Trends in Youth Sports You Need to Know

Posted Thursday, September 21st, 2017 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

Participating in sports is a hallmark of many American childhoods–from baseball to basketball, sports offer youth the opportunity to come together and have fun while learning important life lessons like good sportsmanship and teamwork. In order for youth sports to be a safe, enriching experience for all involved, volunteer background screening for coaching (and other) volunteers and staff has become standard best practice. Screening volunteers and staff keeps young participants safe on and off the field and lets parents and loved ones breathe easy.

Last week we discussed tips for screening volunteers in the faith-based sector, and this week we’re continuing our in-depth look at specialized volunteer screening groups with youth sports associations. Sterling Volunteers partners with many fantastic youth sports groups around the country and they’ve reported back trends in the sector that they feel should be shared with their peers.

So, whether you’re a Volunteer Manager or you’ve got kids playing little league, batter up and get ready, here are 3 growing trends in the youth sports section:

  1. There’s a low-cost problem plaguing youth sports in the USA. The price of a candy bar at a little league game is about $4. That’s equivalent to what many groups are paying for a background check for volunteers and staff charged with keeping children safe. These low price, low quality background checks provide the bare minimum in terms of background information and can overlook important databases, like the National Sex Offender Registry. Higher quality, more thorough checks are available. They may be higher in price, but isn’t it worth it to keep our children away from the risk of dangerous volunteers and staff? If you don’t have the budget, we’ve covered before how organizations can get ask their volunteers to chip in for the cost of their background check, so consider asking if your coaches and staff would like to contribute.
  1. Large publicly traded companies are buying up youth sports organizations. For instance, Time Inc., owner of Time and Sports Illustrated, recently purchased a youth sports association and amateur-sports communications portal: Tucson-based League Athletics, and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based SportsSignup. What does this mean for the youth sports community at large and the leagues and clubs being purchased and consolidated? Big companies may have access to more resources for young athletes. This opens up a world of possibilities – just make sure thorough vetting of volunteer candidates and staff doesn’t fall by the corporate wayside. You can always call and ask your youth sports group what their background screening process is like.
  1. Many organizations do not utilize the National Sex Offenders Registry (NSOPW). This website is the most up-to-date database of sex offenders in the USA, but many organizations forgo searching it because the website requires a bit more labor. Instead, many organizations that outsource their background checks use stale, outdated databases that can be weeks or months behind. For all nonprofits, but especially organizations working with youth and children, partnering with a background screener that searches the NSOPW is essential. For instance, Sterling Volunteers proudly searches the real-time NSOPW for each check they run.

Those are the top 3 trends we are hearing about from youth sports associations. Before we go, we’d like to hear from youth sports Volunteer Managers. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the trends we discussed – or other important ones you’ve noticed lately. Connect with us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to share!