CC! Sports Hosts Youth Summit
Leaders Develop Gold Medal Standards and Action Plan

Paula Powell was watching a youth football game when an angry parent suddenly seized a down marker and struck another parent between the eyes with it. "Kids were crying," she says of the bloody attack. "I had my kids there, and they were scared. It was pretty bad." The crime inspired her to create a program to stop parent misbehavior.

Though such cases are uncommon, they reflect a larger problem familiar in youth sports: unruly adults, taunting, running up scores, too much emphasis on winning, too little on winning and losing well.

Larry Rosen, CEO of the Metropolitan Los Angeles YMCA, makes a point as Paula Powell looks on.

So on February 10-11, 2002, at the Josephson Institute's "Pursuing Victory With Honor - A Summit on Youth Sports," 40 leaders from youth programs like Little League, Pop Warner, AYSO, US Youth Soccer, USA Volleyball, US Tennis, the Amateur Softball Association and USA Hockey came together to try to craft solutions. Paula Powell, park and rec operations supervisor in El Paso, was there too.

They emerged with two major results: 1) the Gold Medal Standards, a common framework of requirements that all youth programs should meet, and 2) an Action Plan, a set of practical ways to implement the Gold Medal Standards. (Click here for a pdf file of the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball.)

These may have consequences that affect all sport. For the "Summit on Youth Sports" sought to embed sportsmanship in all children's athletics, and that's where most people initially encounter it. Individuals who learn to put honorable behavior first in childhood are more likely to do so as teens and adults.

The Youth Summit was a critical steppingstone in the "Pursuing Victory With Honor" strategy for improving ethical conduct in sports. It followed the Arizona Accord of 1999, which laid out principles for sportsmanship, and the 2001 "Pursuing Victory With Honor Men's and Boys' Basketball Summit" and its Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball, a set of guidelines for implementing the Accord in that sport.

The delegates met in a room of chandeliers and hardwood columns at the historic Los Angeles Athletic Club. They sat at a long, narrow U-shaped table dotted with Diet Cokes and pitchers of ice water, as Michael Josephson moved up and down the slot, asking questions, taking suggestions, sharpening language, working toward consensus.

Though the Summit's documents are not yet final, delegates discussed a variety of consensus measures, including provisions that all youth sports programs should:

  • Develop a "mission and objectives" statement for staff, volunteers and parents.

  • Require background checks for adults (volunteers and staff) who work with youth 14 and under, to be completed before the adults come into contact with the children.

  • Provide a safe environment free of physical, emotional or verbal abuse, and one that is prudent with regard to risks of injuries and their treatment.

  • Adopt resolutions to prohibit activities such as fighting, spectator violence, taunting, verbal abuse by coaches or spectators, running up the score, and teaching or tolerating illegal tactics that violate the spirit of rules and tradition of sport.

  • Develop a strategy for emergency response and forms for involving local law enforcement and emergency service providers as support.

  • Provide brief, easy-to-read parent-education materials and FAQs, which include league rules and objectives, the basic rules of the game, all participation costs, practice and game schedules and an explanation of how coaches are selected and trained.

  • Make codes of conduct available for coaches, officials, athletes and parents.

  • Provide and distribute a kit that includes instructions to coaches and officials, banners and handouts, codes of conduct regulating pre-game decorum for coaches, officials and players, and a pre-game audiotape.

In addition, alliance members' sports facilities can require that youth sports programs set firm standards of safety and sportsmanship, and hire qualified coaches.

List of Summit Delegates

  1. Roger Blake, Assistant Executive Director, Calif. Interscholastic Federation
  2. Geoffrey Brown, Executive Director, Dwight Patterson Sports Academy
  3. Jon Butler, Executive Director, Pop Warner Football
  4. Dennis Campbell, Executive Vice President, Michigan Amateur Hockey Association
  5. Julie Cochran, Assistant Executive Director, Illinois Elementary School Association
  6. Thomas Crawford, Former Director of Coaching, U.S. Olympic Committee
  7. John G. Daniel, Associate Executive Director, Girls and Boys Town USA
  8. Barbara Fiege, Commissioner, Calif. Interscholastic Federation - Los Angeles Section
  9. Harley Frankel, Executive Director, Inner City Games
  10. James Gerstenslager, District Administrator, Little League Baseball, Western Region
  11. William Grobe, Ed.D., President, National Association of Secondary School Principals
  12. Jim Hallihan, Executive Director, Iowa State Games
  13. Jacqueline Hansen, Director of Coaching Education, Amateur Athletic Foundation
  14. Linda Henry, Junior Olympic Commissioner, Southern Calif. Amateur Softball Assn.
  15. Michael Josephson, J.D., founder, Josephson Institute, CHARACTER COUNTS!, Pursuing Victory With Honor
  16. Stephen Keener, President & C.E.O., Little League Baseball, Inc.
  17. John Kessel, Director, Coaching Education & Grassroots Programs, USA Volleyball
  18. Ron Kinnamon, Chairman, CHARACTER COUNTS! Leadership Council
  19. Shari Young Kuchenbecker, Ph.D., Professor, Loyola Marymount University, Author of Raising Winners
  20. Sam Lagana, National Director, Pursuing Victory With Honor, CHARACTER COUNTS! Sports
  21. John Lansville, Director of Player Development, Southern Calif. Tennis Assn.
  22. Larry Lemak, M.D., Chairman, National Center for Sports Safety
  23. Barry Mano, President, National Assn. of Sports Officials
  24. Sedrick Mitchell, Deputy Director of External Affairs, Calif. State Parks
  25. Shane Murphy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, Western Connecticut State University
  26. Paula Powell, Sports Operations Supervisor, El Paso Parks and Recreation
  27. Larry Rosen, President & C.E.O., YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles
  28. Randy Sapoznik, Executive Director, United States Youth Volleyball League
  29. Celia Sawyer, Director, Los Angeles Unified School District Youth Services
  30. David Light Shields, Ph.D., Co-Director, Mendelson Center for Sport, Character & Culture, University of Notre Dame
  31. Wendy Smith, Director, Section 14, American Youth Soccer Organization
  32. James Staunton, Ed.D., Commissioner, Calif. Interscholastic Federation - Southern Section
  33. Frances Stronks, Director, Section 1, American Youth Soccer Organization
  34. Cherie Tucker, National Executive Director, American Youth Soccer Organization
  35. Joanne Venditto, Recreation Supervisor, Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks
  36. Robert A. Wilkins, President & C.E.O., YMCA of the East Bay
  37. Patrick Wilson, Director of Regional Operations, Little League Baseball, Inc.
  38. Jolene Woodhave, Deputy Director, Region IV, United States Youth Soccer
  39. Judith Young, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Assn. for Sport and Physical Education
  40. Jim Zebehazy, Executive Director, Young American Bowling Alliance

 More from CC! Sports . . .

Gold Medal Standards
for Amateur Basketball





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