You might be thinking - why should I care so much about creating a code of conduct for my sports group?
A code of conduct helps your organization both internally and externally. It is a foundation and guideline for your organization and all the stakeholders involved. What do I mean about stakeholders? I'm talking about the existing or potential players, parents, staff, and even yourself. It would benefit everyone to have a list of rules and responsibilities to fall back on as it embodies the unified values and principles of your league. Here is a list of 10 rules you should consider incorporating in your own code of conduct.
1. Be on time
Your games and practices will have a beginning and ending time, any extra minute a person is late is a minute lost. Team members rely on each other to show up and be on time - a player down is a huge disadvantage even if it is only a few minutes! There is very limited to no flexibility with timings, especially if the game is in a facility where another team could be waiting on you to use the space immediately after.
2. Respect your team members and opposing team members
There is no tolerance for violence or disrespect between team members. It is encouraged that everyone participates and feels confident. This will only be a result of respect and care. Respect includes listening to each members opinions and comments, inclusion - no discrimination or stereotyping members - and simply being kind to one another.
3. Respect between staff members
Staff members of the organization are also expected to respect one another. Similar to the league registrants, there will be no tolerance for violence amongst volunteers or employees. They are the role models for players to follow so it is expected that members are respectful, caring and patient.
Similarly, registrants are expected to respect staff members as well. If there is a legitimate reason for disliking an employee or volunteer, it is expected that members directly communicate this issue with the organizer or a higher authority. However, being disrespectful to an employee will not be tolerated.
4. Respect the environment
As some games will be hosted in facilities or outdoor locations, it is critical your players are reminded to respect the space they are in. There will be no tolerance for damaging fields, courts or any equipment that is at venues.
5. Follow the rules of the game
Remind players that they are playing in an official league, they cannot create their own rules and laws. They must follow the instructions of their coaches and follow the official laws of the game.
Sounds simple but can go a long way. Encouraging open communication can help you reduce more problems. You could create a system allowing anonymous comments for players to communicate how they might feel about a certain coach or player that may be an issue. The purpose of this rule is typically to regulate and increase the level of comfort for players.
7. Maintaining sportsmanship
Maintaining good sportsmanship is also beneficial to add into your conduct, it reminds
players to play fairly, stay positive and not to be a sore loser – everyone hates those! Make sure your players remember to shake the opposing teams hand (or clap their hand) at the end of a game, to begin with a positive team meeting and to encourage boasting players throughout the game.
8. No coarse language
“Do you kiss your mother with that tongue?!” Last thing you want on the field is your players swearing at each other! Prohibiting coarse language could be helpful to mitigate disputes amongst players. Don’t be afraid to add this into your conduct whether your league is for youth or adults!
9. Proper notices
All members are required to provide a sufficient 24-hour (or however long you may want) notice if they cannot attend a game. This will at least give yourself and team members enough time to prepare for a team with one less player or find a replacement. Otherwise, members may start becoming no-shows if there is no consequence. You could use a warning method, provide each player with 1-3 warning of not providing a proper notice, before they are terminated as a player from the league.
10. Be appropriate ambassadors
Remember that every member under your organization is now an ambassador. With the fast-paced technology available today, it would be helpful to add this into your conduct. Ensuring registrants and employees are not bad-mouthing your league online and acting as appropriate members of the league is important. Otherwise, you may want to consider banning them from the league.