Wanted: Youth Sports Specialists

Isn’t it strange that all across the country there are countless associations that work toward the betterment of their respective professions?

If you’re a teacher, you have the National Education Association to turn to.

If you cut, bend, shape, and repair metals, you have the National Blacksmith and Welders Association looking out for you.

And if your job is crisscrossing the nation’s highways in an 18-wheeler, the American Trucking Association is at your service.

Yet when it comes to administering sports programs for children--clearly our most precious resource--there hasn’t been much to reach out to--until now.

No Room For A Learning Curve

When it comes to youth sports in this country--regardless of which ones you conduct at a facility--there really is no room for learning as you go.

I’m sure on-the-job training works quite well in a number of professions, but not youth sports administration.

There is simply too much at stake.

After all, you have children of all ages and abilities coming together and competing in physical activities.

As we all know, many good things can happen, but the experience may turn sour if those in charge lack the knowledge or experience to make the right calls when it comes to some of the key issues that affect all youth sports programs.

Bad decisions can impact a child’s physical or emotional well-being, and even chase them away from participating in the future.

That’s a lot of responsibility to toss in the lap of a college graduate hired to oversee youth sports programming.

Now, I’m not knocking the outstanding men and women who earn degrees in recreation or similar fields and dedicate their lives to youth sports. I’m just pointing out that one of the major weaknesses in the youth sports structure has been the ability of some of these fine folks to supplement their knowledge and enhance their skills to best accommodate the ever-changing needs of the kids in their care.

A Growing Army Of CYSAs

Until our organization created the Academy for Youth Sports Administrators several years ago, individuals interested in youth sports had no real professional organization they could turn to.

But as more and more recreation departments recognize the importance of designating a fully trained staff person to oversee their youth sports programming, the need for advanced training to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape is evident.

If you haven’t heard of the academy--and the opportunity to earn the Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA) credential--check it out on our Web site (www.nays.org).

In brief, it is 20 hours of training on issues that impact the day-to-day operation of programs.

It exists to help, to give you a voice, and to be part of a cohesive group of like-minded individuals in your community. You also have the opportunity to be involved in efforts at the national level to truly make a difference through the development and release of policy statements on issues that affect programming.

Nearly 2,000 administrators nationwide have completed the training, so those numbers say more about what it means to be prepared than I ever could.

Doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of it? I know there are a number of children in your programs who will be glad you did.

Fred Engh is founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) in West Palm Beach, Fla., which has been advocating positive and safe sports for children since 1981. He is also the author of Why Johnny Hates Sports, which is available on Amazon.com. He can be reached via e-mail at fengh@nays.org.