This article was originally published by SportsTravel in April 2024.

Youth sports organizations are cornerstones of many communities. However, a dark side lurks within some organizations with financial misconduct by those entrusted with funds. Recent cases underscore how common this is:

      • The former president and treasurer of a youth baseball league faced charges of embezzlement and money laundering
      • Three soccer league organizers were accused of stealing more than $47,000 between 2018 and 2022
      • Two major instances of embezzlement cost the Jr. 49ers $256,000 and a New Jersey youth soccer league over $91,000.

These cases highlight a lack of background screening for leadership positions. This financial exploitation depletes resources meant for young athletes and erodes the trust of parents and the community. Comprehensive background screening is a powerful tool to mitigate this risk.

Parents put their trust in the people who coach and organize their children’s sports teams. The thought that these adults might misuse that trust is something no parent wants to confront. Youth sports organizations often handle significant sums of money in registration fees, equipment costs and fundraising proceeds. Background checks can unearth red flags such as past charges for fraud, embezzlement or theft. Identifying such patterns of unethical behavior allows organizations to make informed decisions about who holds the purse strings.

The benefits of background screening extend beyond protecting finances. Multiple people in youth sports have direct contact with the kids including coaches, referees, bus drivers and volunteers. Implementing background checks specific to each state and organization adds a layer of protection for participants.

A thorough screening process demonstrates the organization’s commitment to transparency and accountability, fostering a sense of security and trust within the community. Here’s a closer look at what a background screening process for youth sports should entail:

      • National Criminal Database Search: This checks for convictions across a vast database, providing a nationwide perspective on an individual’s criminal history.
      • SSN Verification and Address History: This confirms a person’s identity and allows for a more comprehensive search by tracing potential aliases and uncovering discrepancies.
      • National Sex Offender Search: This checks national registries to identify individuals convicted of sex offenses.
      • Checking Alias Names: People may use aliases for various reasons. This step helps ensure a thorough search by looking for criminal records under any names a person may have used.
      • County and Statewide Criminal Court Searches: National databases offer a broad view, but local searches can uncover misdemeanors and other charges that might not be included in a national search.
      • Social Media Screening: While legal considerations exist, some organizations include social media checks to look for patterns of concerning behavior or potential red flags.
      • Real-time Continuous Monitoring: This advanced service provides ongoing checks for criminal activity, ensuring the safety net remains strong even after the initial screening.

The need for stricter background screening in youth sports is gaining traction. By implementing a well-designed background screening process, youth sports organizations can make a significant stride in creating a safe and positive environment for young athletes. Organizations benefit from reduced financial risk and increased community trust. Parents gain peace of mind knowing their children are in a safe and responsible environment.

Many resources are available to youth sports organizations seeking to implement effective background screening programs. Experienced screening partners offering robust screening services can provide the in-depth education and support organizations need to create and execute a comprehensive and effective screening program. These experts can help guide organizations in creating solutions to fit its specific needs and budget, ensuring a balance between thoroughness and affordability.

The financial well–being of youth sports organizations is paramount to their ability to serve their communities. By prioritizing robust background screening for leadership positions, organizations can protect their finances, build trust with parents, and ensure that youth sports organizations remain bastions of positive development, free from financial misconduct.