Posts Tagged ‘youth sports’

Is Your Organization Covered—for Anything?

March 21, 2016

The idea of crisis plans for your team, event or venue is to try to think of anything and everything that can happen, and make sure you have a correct response to every scenario you can come up with. auction-gavel-2

But too often, no one takes into consideration 1) demanding parents and 2) litigation at the drop of a gavel.

When his 16-year-old son didn’t get the most valuable player award, Michel Croteau didn’t get mad, he tried to get even. He hired a lawyer and sued his son’s youth hockey league to the tune of more than $200,000. Croteau claimed his son Steve should have been the MVP since he had the most goals and assists in the league. When he didn’t win, daddy claimed that Steve was so embarrassed, he wanted to quit hockey.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the year the Croteau lawsuit was filed, 2013, parents filed more than 200 non-injury-related sports lawsuits against coaches, leagues and school districts in the United States, according to Gil Fried, a University of New Haven professor specializing in sports law.

But wait, there’s more.

The Butzke family sued the Comsewogue, N.Y., school district because their eighth-grade daughter was taken off the varsity high school soccer team.

The Branco family took legal action against the Washington Township, N.J., school district after their son, David, was cut from the junior varsity basketball team.

The Rubin family sued California’s New Haven Unified School District for $1.5 million because their son got kicked off the varsity basketball team.

Marc Martinez sued his son’s baseball coach, John Emme, twice, and both times the suit was thrown out. It all surrounded the fact that Emme removed J.D. Martinez from the varsity roster, and dad claimed Emme did it for spite since Martinez the elder had complained to the school district that Emme was having his son throw too much. Coach Emme then countersued Martinez, a move Emme’s lawyer said was as much about Martinez as it was to send a message to parents around the country.

Most everyone has insurance to cover injury, weather, and other fairly predictable problems. Litigation is a growing issue, though, for many sports organizations, especially youth sports. Make sure you have a plan (and an attorney) in place that can help you out, in case there’s a case brought against you.

A Lesson to Be Learned

March 14, 2016

A while back we told you about the fight at a girls’ high school basketball game in Indiana that resulted in the suspension of both teams from the rest of this season.

Pike High meeting

Photo Courtesy: Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star.

Now, as Paul Harvey might say, here is the rest of the story.

After both the Pike and Ben Davis girls’ basketball teams were suspended after the on-court brawl, most everyone thought that would be the end of the issue. But Anucha Browne saw it as an opportunity for a life lesson for everyone involved.

Browne is NCAA vice president for women’s basketball championships. And she comes in with a hoops pedigree: She starred at Northwestern and led the country in scoring in 1985 with a 30.5 points per game average. And she decided she needed to talk with these players.

“I thought it was important to be in their space and help them understand that those split-second decisions can change the rest of their lives,” she told the Indianapolis Star. “I took pride in owning the fact that those young people deserve another chance and to have a dialogue with somebody who has been where they are. I want to be impactful in their lives.”

Browne met with the Pike team last week—she’s scheduled to meet with Ben Davis next week. Neither high school appealed the suspensions, although Pike did ask the Indiana High School Athletic Association to reevaluate its process in ruling on fighting at games.

“These are just young people, and you have to invest in young people,” Browne continued. “We tell our kids to be sportsmen, but what does that mean? I think to have that dialogue and talk to them about the impact of their behavior and what they do is important. It says everything about them.”

As for the school, Pike Athletic Director Doug Schornick said the meeting with Browne was another step in the healing process. “I think the message coming from somebody of her background was perfect,” he said. “We’re going to get stronger. All our programs are going to get stronger.”

Kudos to Browne for reaching out to both teams after a devastating end to their seasons. Let’s hope the schools, and especially the players, learn and grow from it.

A Win Comes with a Price

February 29, 2016

 

Score

Photo courtesy of Troy Machir, Sporting News.

 

The coach of a California high school girls’ basketball team was suspended two games for a big win.

And we mean, big.

Arroyo Valley High School defeated Bloomington High School, 161-2 last month. And it’s not first time Arroyo Valley had won by large margins. The Hawks had scored more than 100 points twice before, but this 159-point win created enough backlash that the school felt it needed to act and suspended Coach Michael Anderson for the two games.

Not that benching the coach made much of a difference. In the first game without Coach Anderson, Arroyo Valley won, 80-19. The Hawks were coached by Anderson’s 19-year-old son.

For his part, Anderson said he talked with the Bloomington head coach before the game, explaining that this was the Hawks’ last game before league play and that his team was going to play hard. “I wanted to let him know there was no harm intended,” Anderson told the Orange County Register, “and that if he had any ideas or concerns just to let me know.”

Anderson benched his starters at halftime and told his players in the second half to run the shot clock down before trying to score, but it still ended up as a beyond-lopsided final score. And Bloomington’s head coach, Dale Chung, told the San Bernardino County Sun he wasn’t happy with the outcome. “People shouldn’t feel sorry for my team,” he said. “They should feel sorry for his team, which isn’t learning the game the right way.”

A few times a year, we read about this kind of a game—is it the coach’s fault for running up the score or is it the opposing team’s fault for not putting up more of a fight? In several high school sports, football and basketball included, many state associations allow a running clock if the score is lopsided—in California, a running clock isn’t allowed until the fourth quarter.

There’s a fine line between sportsmanship and letting players play. The reserves want to show their skills and often take the opportunity in ‘garbage time’ to do just that, at the expense of an undermanned opponent. The talent level is so inconsistent in youth sports, including high school girls’ basketball, that blowouts do happen. A two-game suspension probably won’t stop Arroyo Valley from winning by 100+ points again this season. The lesson for the players may be, how those games are won.

Building Community Relationships

February 23, 2016

 

Building relationships within your community is essential to the success of sporting events you host.  From venue support, event management, volunteer recruitment, fundraising and sponsorships, your local community holds the resources that rights holders look for when awarding events.

How do you begin?

  • Visit all prospective venues in your area. Get to know everything about them, build a relationship with their staff and learn who books their events.
    • Why?
      • A venue is usually the most critical component to a successful bid.
      • Their customers may become prospects and customers of yours.
    • Get to know all of the local clubs and sport organizations.
      • Where to find them?
        • Local news
        • Referrals
        • Google Alerts and Search Engines
        • Relationships with local venues
        • Club listings on national websites (i.e. National Governing Bodies)
      • Why?
        • They are the experts in their sport and invaluable resources in areas such as event management, vendor relationships, volunteers, and they may also have relationships with venues.
      • Reach out to local government; they may grant access to venues, provide support services, and/or offer financial support that could be essential to a successful proposal.
        • Parks and recreation departments
        • Police, fire and EMS
        • Department of Transportation
        • Elected officials such as a Mayor, City Council, County Commissioners
      • Be sure to include the business community in your outreach as they can may provide sponsorship opportunities and a pool for volunteers.

What tools are available to build and support your relationships?

  • Social media
  • Volunteering at sports events in your community
  • Join and/or serve on a board or committee for a club, organization or association
  • Create an event to bring your local sports community together to foster discussions and promote networking amongst themselves.

Bonny Bernat, CSEE
Senior Sports and Events Sales Manager
Visit Winston-Salem
Bonny@Visitwinstonsalem.com
NASC Mentoring Committee

 

 

The Sad Side of Sports

February 22, 2016

A high school girls’ basketball game this past weekend between Pike and Ben Davis high schools, two Indianapolis-area schools, had to be called with five minutes left in the fourth quarter because of a fight that apparently involved both fans and players.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers

Photo courtesy of teamfenon.com

Video posted on social media showed both players and fans on the court, although officials are not saying right now what may have started the incident.

At the time of the scuffle at Ben Davis’ gym, Pike was leading the game by a wide margin. Officials from both schools are scheduled to meet with the Indiana High School Athletic Association later this week.

In a statement, Ben Davis’ administration said, “We are extremely disappointed that good sportsmanship was not shown by the players involved in (today’s) girls basketball game at Ben Davis High School We are working closely with administrators at Pike High School and the IHSAA to determine exactly which players were involved in this incident.”

The statement continues: “This behavior is not representative of our values, beliefs or how we coach our student athletes. It is not reflective of the Ben Davis pride of our students, alumni and community share. And it certainly does not reflect the rich tradition and success of our girls basketball team. The Ben Davis players involved will face consequences at school, and we will comply with any consequences we receive from the IHSAA.”

For its part, the Pike athletic department Twitter feed posted this message: “Today’s girls’ BB incident was unfortunate! We are working with BD & IHSAA to investigate today’s occurrence.”

Last season the IHSAA hit Griffith and Hammond high schools with sanctions after a fight at a boys game, suspending both teams for the year. Eventually both schools got a temporary restraining order so they could play in the post-season tournament, and Griffith make it to the 3A championship game.

This investigation probably will go on for weeks, with sanctions expected on both sides. But when young players, girls or boys, see the behavior that goes on at some professional games, is it any wonder that scuffles break out? It makes it even more imperative for youth coaches to have proper training to make sure that nothing like this happens at their events.

Tips for the RFP Process

February 9, 2016

Responding to an RFP can be a daunting task, especially in the sports market.  Yet, tackling an RFP piece-by-piece can make the process easier and, hopefully, yield lucrative results.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that the requirements are a good fit for your destination. Read the RFP thoroughly to see if you have the items needed to place a bid.  The bare bones necessary are the venues, hotel space, volunteer availability, expertise of a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and a plan to deal with bid fees.  If you have any questions, pick up the phone and call the planner.  A phone call will go a long way, and allows you to find out what the hot button issues are. In some cases, what you might think is important actually may be unimportant for the planner.  Always ask the question. For example, if a bid specifies that your fields need to have lights but yours don’t, ask the planner if lack of lights is a deal breaker.  Another example might be that a client prefers Hilton properties, but the bulk of your rooms are with Marriott. If this happens, let the client know, and check to see if this will be an issue for the bid.

One of the most important steps in this process is to check the history of the event you are bidding on.  The best way to do this is to talk to the CVBs or Sports Commissions in cities that have hosted the event in the past.  Ask them about venues used, hotel pickup and if there were any challenges with the event operator.  Make sure to find out if they had any overall problems with the event.  This information is very valuable, and will help you in the RFP process.  It is important to also check the geographical history of the event – has the event ever occurred in your region? Some events are a better fit to certain areas of the country- what works in the South might not work as well in the North. It’s fine to let a client know that you have researched their event.  It shows that you are thorough and helps keep them transparent and communicative.

Many destinations cannot afford – or simply won’t pay – bid fees. Many times, a bid fee can be circumvented by offering concessions instead.  A list of concessions is usually provided along with the bid fee. These can include complimentary hotel rooms, airline tickets, rental cars etc.   Only the sales person and the destination marketing or sports organization can determine if you can address their concessions.  Perhaps you can form a partnership with a local rental car agency to get a reduced weekly rate in exchange for agency being listed as the sponsor. Airlines can be a bit challenging, however contact your local hub, they may be willing to work with you. Utilize relationships with the hotels in the area to obtain comp rooms for the proposal.  Some events will require two or more hotels to fill the comps. Always make sure the comp policy is consistent across hotels listed in the proposal.

Once you have collected all of the information required for the bid, prepare to submit the proposal. If you have not been able to meet all the concessions, it is still okay to submit. Several things can happen at this point. One response may be, that, although the concessions were not completely met, the facilities may be a better fit for the event. Another response could be a flat out no, however the organizer now is aware what you are able to do and may come back for future events.

It is important to ask for decision dates as a part of the proposal submission. If it is not specifically addressed in the RFP, make sure to ask. This allows organizations to hold space at facilities until decision time. Some facilities will place the space on “hold” for a certain number of days and give the event planner the “right of refusal” for the dates. In that case the organization on “hold” will have to go to contract and send a deposit for the space. Some organizations will request a site visit as a part of the decision process. With years of experience, it is safe to say a site visit should typically last two days to include venue and hotel options.

John Gibbons, CSEE
Executive Director of the RI Sports Commission
JGibbons@GoSportsRI.ocm

Ron Eifert, CSEE
Senior Sales Manager
Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau
reifert@daytoncvb.net

How to Successfully Prospect

January 26, 2016

Sporting events represent an opportunity to showcase and to make a significant economic impact on your community.  Where should you start in the process of securing events and meetings?

Strengths:

To be effective with your time, you need is to evaluate what events could work in your area, especially the resources that you have available for your use.  These resources are primarily facilities and people.

  • What types of facilities do you have available to host events? Don’t limit your vision to “major” complexes.  There are a variety of options that may work including city facilities, parks, colleges, public and private schools, open spaces, hotels and even your roads.
  • Who in your community has interest, expertise and understanding of sports? Do they have relationships with event planners and will they be an advocate for you?  Who has access to recruiting volunteers who are knowledgeable with sport? Who will help collaborate to bring events to your community and to insure that they are successful?

Opportunities:

The variety and number of available meetings and events is extensive.  There are events that will work for all regions and others that you should not pursue.  There is no reason to spend any resources on pursuing a downhill skiing event if you live in Florida.  Some other topics for event marketers to explore include:

  • What types of events could work in your community?
    • Which events have a significant fan and participant base in your area?
    • What sports have an interest in growing or breaking into your area?
    • What events work in your facilities? What events have similar elements to those events?
    • What events are the facility managers interested in pursuing?
  • Look at what similar towns/cities in your area and in the country are doing. What is your competition hosting?
  • When are there “holes” in your City’s calendar, where bringing in events would make the biggest economic impact? If you live in a beach community, perhaps a winter event would have more impact than a July event when your community is already busy.

Resources / History:

There is no need to reinvent the wheel.  As a member of the National Association of Sports Commissions, you have access to research, meetings and events that are available for bid and access to other NASC members.  Utilize these resources.

Part of the vetting process is to research the history of the events and event organizers.  Are the elements in their RFP realistic? Is bidding on this event and making an investment in time, and potentially money, going to have a return on your investment?  Does history confirm their claims of room nights and economic impact?  Do they pay their bills?  Use the internet as a tool and call the CVBs / Sports Commissions that have hosted these events in the past.

Many RFPs are a starting point in the bid / negotiation process.  Many event planners will ask for everything and the kitchen sink up front.  After vetting the event and deciding that it is something that you want to pursue, even if you can’t match all of the bid elements, feel free to counter offer and make your pitch on why the event would be successful in your community.

Bidding:

Make sure that the event makes sense for your community.  It may be okay to take a loss on an event if it helps you gain exposure, grow your event portfolio or lead to other events.  Take a long range view of event procurement.

Let the event planner know the strengths of your community including who will be involved in the bid and execution of the event if you win it.   Why should the event come to your community?  Can you draw spectators and participants?  What is your experience in the sport?  Can your community provide expertise, volunteers, financial backing?  Is there a legacy if the event does come?

Conclusion:

There are sporting events and meetings that will work for all communities.  Start by looking at your strengths and then match these with the available opportunities.

Bob Murdock
Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau
860-882-1103
robertm@ctcsb.org

Changes ahead for youth football?

January 11, 2016

The new year could be bringing a new look to youth football around the country. Case in point: Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced its recreation department is changing the city’s youth football program from tackle to “non-contact” flag football for kids in first through eighth grade.

youth-football.jpg

Photo courtesy Grand Forks Park District

In an article published by boston.com, city officials cited concerns nationwide over increases in injuries for young players in contact football, as well as declining enrollment in the city’s contact program. The changes were announced this past week, to go into effect this summer.

“Particularly over the past few years, the rise in injuries among young people playing contact football, both in game situations and during regular practices, demonstrates a need for us to reevaluate the programs we offer to our youngest residents,” Jill Lathan, the city’s director of Recreation and Youth, said. “Somerville Recreation has a history of providing programs and opportunities for youth of all ages and interest levels, but we also have a commitment to keep our children safe while they have fun.”

Lathan also said the recreation department will continue to support those who want to continue to play in a contact football program, like Pop Warner, through its equipment rental program, but the city will not sponsor a tackle football program for young players.

“Interest and participation in flag football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age,” Lathan said.

The city seems to be following recommendations made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, famously portrayed by Will Smith in the new movie, “Concussion,” who said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month that there should be a minimum age to play tackle football because children’s developing brains should be protected from concussions. While few believe that the minimum age will be set at 18, as Dr. Omalu suggests, this move by Somerville shows that municipalities are taking the threat of brain injuries seriously and are taking steps to try to keep players safer.

Put sports on your giving list

December 14, 2015

As you’re doing your holiday shopping this season, you can’t help but notice a plethora of requests for donations. Besides the Red Kettle on the corner, you’ll often see on your credit card checkout pad a request to add a dollar for a number of good causes, from homeless pets to meals for the hungry.

youth lacrosse

Photo courtesy of Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation

While you’re considering year-end gifts, don’t forget about some of the non-profit sports organizations in your own back yard. Whether it’s a local youth baseball team, or even the sports commission or sports corporation that may help you as a rights holder or event manager put on events, all would appreciate a donation at this time of year.

And what will that donation mean? Well, it can help continue a youth basketball program whose gym rental fee went up this year; it can help an inner-city Pop Warner football team buy new gear, including safer helmets and pads; and it can help a sports corporation pay the filing fees for new events that it wants to bring to your area.

Big or small, any gift is appreciated by these groups. And the best part of it is, you can see how that gift pays off with more sporting events and more people participating in sports. According to the U.S. Department of Education, student-athletes in the lower grades are four times more likely to attend college than their counterparts who do not play. And Up2Us Sports says student-athletes have an 11% higher graduation rate than non-athletes.

All in all, sports is a good investment, no matter what time of year it is. Putting your favorite sports non-profit on your year-end giving list helps invest in the future of sports.

The Future of Football

December 8, 2015

Before the Christmas release of the film, “Concussion,” the researcher whose work is the basis for the movie, Bennet Omalu, wrote a New York Times op-ed piece that appeared Monday, in which he says that children under age 18 should not be allowed to play full-contact football.

AFI FEST 2015 Presented By Audi Centerpiece Gala Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "Concussion" - Arrivals

HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 10: Bennet Omalu attends the Centerpiece Gala Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Concussion” during AFI FEST 2015 presented by Audi at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Omalu likens the dangers of football to other known dangers like smoking, asbestos and alcohol, His argument is, we learned of the dangers of each, and now have education and, in some cases, laws in place to protect people from their misuse. We know about the dangers of football, he argues, and it is now time to protect young people from the head trauma that we’ve seen in older players.

Omalu is the first person to link repeated concussions and head trauma to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition blamed in part for the deaths of a number of high profile NFL players, including Junior Seau and Mike Webster.

In the article, Omalu makes the point “that repetitive blows to the head in high-impact contact sports like football, ice hockey, mixed-martial arts and boxing place athletes at high risk of permanent brain damage. …Why, then, do we continue to intentionally expose our children to this risk?”

In the short term, Omalu’s proposal would change youth football to a non-contact, touch or flag football game. In the long term, though, eliminating youth football as it is played at higher levels would effectively kill the college and professional game in the United States. If youngsters don’t grow up playing the game at it exists now, there’s a slim to none chance they will pick it up when they are “of age.”

In the wake of the New York Times piece, former college and NFL quarterback Danny Kanell tweeted that “the war on football is real.” For youth football organizers, it’s time to look realistically at the dangers and work hard to make the game safer.

 

Do new rules make soccer safer?

November 16, 2015

Last week the U.S. Soccer Federation avoided further litigation on a class-action lawsuit by agreeing to new rules for youth soccer players. The rules now bar players 10 and younger from heading the soccer ball, and athletes 11 to 13 will be limited in the number of times they can practice headers during practice.

The rules were initiated because a group of soccer parents and players had sued U.S. Soccer, asking for more stringent rules to handle concussions, especially from players heading the ball. But some say the rules don’t go far enough in protecting young athletes.

For example, the Concussion Legacy Foundation says that players 14 and under should never head the soccer ball, but does agree the new rules are a step in the right direction.

But is delaying heading the ball the best way to protect players from concussions? A study released in September from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that, among high school players studied, heading was responsible for the highest proportion of concussions in boys—30 percent—and girls—25 percent.

The most interesting part of the study, though, is that slamming into another player, rather than heading the ball itself, seems to be what causes the most header-related injuries. Because of that, the authors of the study concluded that banning heading itself won’t have that much effect on preventing concussions, unless it is somehow linked with efforts to reduce contact between players.

And then there is the coaching faction that claims that the U.S. will fall behind the rest of the world in soccer development, if youngsters aren’t taught the “correct” way to play the game from youth soccer on.

Everyone agrees that players need to be kept as safe as possible playing soccer, at any age. Whether it’s mandating the use of headgear or limiting headers, the goal is to keep young athletes, and their brains, healthy. The new rules may be a first step in developing ways to do just that.

Photo courtesy jax youth soccer

Photo courtesy jax youth soccer