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Youth League Consistency

The Federal indictment and plea bargain agreement of Micahel Vick brings up some interesting issues for youth sports and the application of rules dealing with personal conduct. Depending on any eventual disciplinary action taken, in examining the issues facing the NFL it may be possible for all of us to run better leagues for our communities.

Michael Vick Lithograph (SK809-1559)

Clearly Michael Vick is one of the great athletes of our generation with an unparallel ability to run with the football and heave it downfield a fantastic distance along with incredible accuracy. However, he has consistently run into trouble with the league, the fans and the law.

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

While people accused of a crime in America are “innocent until proven guilty”, with new commissioner Roger Goodell in charge, in the NFL and in youth leagues there is a separate standard of personal conduct that needs to be met.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has a Conduct Policy that prohibits violent and/or criminal activity. There is also a provision dealing with those accused, even if they are not convicted of a crime. The National Football League (NFL), under Goodell, has instituted an even stricter Personal Conduct Policy: “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL will be subject to discipline, even if not criminal in nature.”

Goodell goes on to say: “It is important that the NFL be represented consistently by outstanding people as well as great football players, coaches and staff. We hold ourselves to higher standards of responsible conduct because of what it means to be part of the National Football League. We have long had policies and programs designed to encourage responsible behavior, and this policy is a further step in ensuring that everyone who is part of the NFL meets that standard. We will continue to review the policy and modify it as warranted.”

This type of policy of personal conduct is just as crucial in youth leagues where the players, parents, coaches and board of directors represent our families and our communities. Especially in recreational leagues, while winning and proper fundamentals are important, it’s the life lessons that have to take precedent for us as we participate in youth sports programs.

The reason that the NFL’s action is so important is that it sets an example for all of us on how to enforce a code of conduct policy – will the NFL set the right example or the wrong one for us?

There are three key components to having a successful youth league code of conduct policy:

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

1.      The enforcement of penalties is consistent;

2.      The policy has reasonable penalties that can be enforced given the nature of the league;

3.      The policy is clear, understood by, and agreed to all who are a party to the code (players, coaches, parents and board members).

The most difficult aspect of this is consistent enforcement. Too many times penalties are not assessed because the kid in question is a star or the coach is a “good guy” and friends with board members. To have a successful policy EVERY violation of the code of conduct needs to be strictly enforced with the penalty stated in the code.

This leads to the second key issue: to have penalties that are possible to enforce. Giving kids two game suspensions for a curse word is certainly unreasonable in a ten game season – the penalty is much too severe. I recommend having graduated penalties that equate to the severity of the infraction and/or the number of times a penalty needs to be inflicted upon an individual. For some leagues fighting is a violation that will automatically get a kid kicked out regardless of fault. However, having a tiered penalty system with smaller penalties for minor violations and larger penalties for others will allow for consistent enforcement. Penalties can range from trash pick in the park or other local community service up to missing some game time and even expulsion from the league.

To make this work everybody has to be on the same page and that means registration should require the parents, volunteers, and players to all read and agree to the code of conduct. The responsible behavior that you want followed needs to be clearly identified as well as the potential penalties for violation. Only by making a policy that is easily understand can it be followed and enforced.

Hopefully, the NFL will set the right tone for all of us to follow in our own leagues by how it handles Michael Vick.

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Trivia Test 

We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids – try our “Title Fight” Sports Grab Bag Game and find the answers to these questions at the bottom.


1) What sport did William Morgan invent in Holyoke, Massachusetts?

A)      Cricket

B)      Volleyball

C)      Water Polo

D)      Badminton


2) Which two pins are left standing if a bowler rolls a "Woolworth?"

A)     The one and three

B)     The seven and ten

C)     The five and ten

D)     The three and ten


3) What was the first horse after Citation to win the horse racing Triple Crown?

A)     Man-O-War

B)     Seabiscuit

C)     Secretariat

D)     Count Fleet


4) Which British bare-knuckles champion invented the boxing glove and wrote the first set of boxing rules?

A)      Jack Broughton

B)      John Sullivan

C)      James Corbett

D)      Jess Willard


5) Who was the first golfer to win an event on the PGA and Senior PGA Tours in the same calendar year?

A)      Jack Nicklaus

B)      Arnold Palmer

C)      Lee Trevino

D)      Raymond Floyd


There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey, basketball and “Sports Math” in three different skill levels. Test your sports skills against kids around the world in the SportsKids Game Section.



Answers: (1) B  (2) C  (3) C   (4) A   (5) D

Sports Poll 

1)  Do the youth leagues you're associated with have a  Code of Conduct?

-     Yes

-     No

2)  Do you have to sign and agree to the Code of Conduct?

-     Players

-     Parents

-     Volunteers

-     All of the Above

-     None of the Above

3)  Are the penalties reasonable for the infractions?

-     Yes

-     No

4)  Is the Code of Conduct enforced consistently?

-     Yes

-     No

5)  Is the Code of Conduct enforced fairly?

-     Yes

-     No


Last month’s Poll results: 

1)  Do you tailgate at sporting events?

-     Always (24.39%)

-     Never (35.37%)

-     Sometimes (40.24%)

2)  Has any youth league you've been associated with set up a tailgating party?

-     Yes (30.49%)

-     No (69.51%)

3)  Do you feel that a tailgating party can useful to develop stronger communities?

-     Yes (65.85%)

-     No (34.15%)

4)  What food is a must to have a great tailgating party?

-     Hot Dogs (41.46%)

-     Hamburgers (32.93%)

-     Candy (10.98%)

-     Alcohol (9.76%)

-     Egg Salad (4.88%)


Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at