Originally created 02/11/02

Coaches could be screened



AIKEN - Aiken officials are considering background checks on all youth coaches applying to the city's recreation department.

Aiken already makes parents sign a code of ethics that commits them to be responsible and supportive, according to Glenn Parker, Aiken's director of parks and recreation.

The city recently has dealt with unruly coaches and parents, according to a city memo.

In one case, a youth baseball coach was ejected from a game and waited in a parking lot for the umpire, the memo stated. The coach verbally and physically assaulted the umpire, who has filed charges.

The coach was removed from the league and hasn't coached since. Parents also have been suspended from attending games for physical and verbal altercations, Mr. Parker said.

"You can be competitive, and you want to win, but our mission here is to stress participation and teaching," he said.

A 1999 poll of parents whose children played youth sports in Aiken found that 99 percent of them would pay for background checks. Mr. Parker has recommended to city officials that head and assistant coaches be screened at the cost of $3 per youth participant.

Officials would like to start screening by this fall, the city memo states.

In 1993, Columbia County's recreation department was one of the first in Georgia to implement background checks, said Charlie Beale, the county's recreation manager.

"We've weeded out some coaches who probably didn't need to deal with youth," Mr. Beale said. Only a small number of coaches, probably less than 1 percent, have not been allowed to coach, Mr. Beale said.

Aiken plans to use the same screening system as Columbia County. It is provided by the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

The system verifies applicants' Social Security numbers and current and past addresses. Criminal background checks are conducted within every jurisdiction in which the applicants have lived, the memo states.

An applicant's report, which would include all convictions that meet certain criteria, would be given to the city. Mr. Parker said the city has not defined what criteria it will use.

Mr. Beale said Columbia County looks for convictions ranging from physical abuse to driving under the influence. Crimes such as DUI are more detrimental if they occur within two years of the background check, Mr. Beale said.

FOUL PLAY

Recent bad sports:

  • A father yelled derogatory comments at his son's teammate on an under-10 soccer team. When another man asked the father to stop, the father pushed his chest into the other man's chest and told him he could say what he wanted to.
  • A father ran onto the field at a youth baseball game and grabbed a coach. He pulled the coach off the field, yelling profanities because he was upset his son had been taken out of the game. Police officers were called to restrain the father.
  • A youth basketball coach was suspended for using profanity toward officials and his own players.
  • Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.