Youth sports done right, by putting our Youth 1st!
Youth sports can provide us with great learning experiences if we approach them with the proper perspective. Perspective is how we see the world, which then determines our conduct, our actions. We need to help parents and coaches see the youth sports experience as it was meant to be: an extension of the classroom, a piece of the development process.
On October 20, NFHS Executive Director Karissa Niehoff sent a video message entitled: The ongoing national crisis involving a lack of individuals to officiate high school sports. Headlines across the country mention rescheduled or cancelled games due to the shortage of officials. The pandemic heightened a growing problem caused by the abuse of officials. According to the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), 57 percent of officials say that sportsmanship is getting worse, primarily among competitive youth sports, caused by parents (40%), coaches (30%) and fans (19%). We have some work to do! We can do better!
Minnesota Softball, Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, Inc. (MYAS) and Youth 1st are announcing a strategic partnership designed to integrate Youth 1st Environments into leagues, qualifying events and state tournaments offered to community-based youth sports associations.
“Together, we launched a sportsmanship initiative in 2019, implementing Youth 1st Environments across the state. The impact of our joint efforts saw a significant decrease in unsportsmanlike behavior from players, coaches, parents and fans during these youth competitions. In the process, we were able to see how well aligned the mission and goals of our organizations are and felt it was time to formalize our relationship.”, said Mark Arjes, Director of Youth 1st. “We are very excited to help Minnesota Softball and MYAS fulfill and expand their mission to improve the delivery of youth sports services to young athletes, coaches, parents and officials.”
“One of the goals within the MYAS mission is to promote sportsmanship, teamwork and cultural interaction through sporting competition.” said Dawson Blanck, MYAS Executive Director. “The entire MYAS team is thrilled to be able to partner with Youth 1st to help us meet those goals within our programs. As a leader in youth sports throughout the great state of Minnesota, we want to be proactive and impact participants (youth athletes, coaches, parents, and officials) in a positive way through a Youth 1st environment at all our tournaments and events.”
“Youth 1st exemplifies what Minnesota Softball is all about,” said Tom Bye, Director for Minnesota Softball. “The time is right for this partnership which will benefit our entire platform. We need to reward good sportsmanship and reward it through a fine program like Youth 1st.” Bye continued, “We hope this will turn our sport into a positive and fun environment for our kids to excel.”
YOUTH 1ST ALLIANCE – CONDUCT EXPECTATIONS
League Play in Minnesota Softball and MYAS Gopher State Baseball: Abuse of any kind directed toward an umpire will not be tolerated and will result in outs, suspensions, and disqualifications. Any player, coach, or spectator who violates the Minnesota Softball/MYAS/Youth 1st Conduct Policy before, during or after a contest, may forfeit their team’s opportunity to continue participation in the league AND the actions may result in a temporary or permanent banishment from any Minnesota Softball/MYAS sponsored events. Incident Reports and disciplinary actions will be sent to the Youth 1st Alliance - Conduct Review Committee, an independent group for review and recommendations at the completion of the game. Notification of any disciplinary action may also be shared with other Minnesota event operators.
Tournament Play (including qualifiers) in Minnesota Softball and MYAS Gopher State Baseball: Minnesota Softball/MYAS/Youth 1st Conduct Policy: Any player, coach, or spectator who violates the posted Youth 1st Environment before, during or after a contest, WILL forfeit their team’s opportunity to continue participation in the tournament AND the actions may result in a temporary or permanent banishment from any Minnesota Softball/MYAS sponsored events. The on-site Protest Committee reserves the right to uphold this policy. All disciplinary action will be sent to the Youth 1st Alliance - Conduct Review Committee, an independent group for review and recommendations at the completion of the tournament. Notification of any disciplinary action may also be shared with other Minnesota event operators.
YOUTH 1ST ALLIANCE – CONDUCT REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Youth 1st Alliance will hold people accountable for their poor behavior via an independent committee supporting community-based associations that uphold Youth 1st standards of conduct and sportsmanship through a process of investigation, review, and accountability that is applied to incident reports filed in youth baseball and softball. Disciplinary actions will be applied through the originating state association.
Imagine 2 teams of 10- or 12-year-old kids playing a game tonight. The cool uniforms, nice playing facilities, great equipment and the kid’s excitement to play with their friends…. One adult (parent, fan, coach) badgers the umpire about a call and one has to ask, how many of the kids playing will want to become an umpire? According to a survey by Officially Human, only 12 percent of officials are under 34 years old. Now you know why we need a Youth 1st Environment:
- Remember, it’s about the kids!
- Keep your competitive energy in check!
- Always respect officials and opponents
Youth sports done right, by putting our Youth 1st!