Two Colorado Senators Band Together to Push for Mandatory Youth Sports Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 1/16/2015

Two Democratic politicians in Colorado are pushing for mandatory background checks for private youth sports clubs. Right now, there is no law on the books in the state that requires privately run youth sports organizations to run background checks on employees or volunteers. The proposed bill, drafted by a team that includes a State Representative, a State Senator, and a child abuse prevention consultant, ”would change all that. The new legislation, if passed, would call upon soccer clubs and baseball leagues, and require them to conduct background screenings of most employees and volunteers.

Of course, just because this bill isn't officially law yet doesn't mean that youth sports as a whole is a haven for sex offenders and child abusers. Since the majority of youth leagues are operated by public school districts, most parents in Colorado can rest assured that their kids' coaches, assistant coaches, and trainers have been subjected to background checks. Just like teachers are required to undergo background screenings before working with kids, school coaches are held to the same benchmarks.

However, when it comes to private sports clubs, background check legislation has been overlooked in Colorado. And while many of these privately held clubs are completely legitimate and do run background checks on their staffs, there are others that skip the screenings entirely.

From the clubs' perspective, it might make sense to skip something that is not legally required of them. After all, staff-wide background checks can be costly and can make it much more difficult to fill a coaching position quickly. A sports club could save both time and money by skipping the checks entirely and trusting in the honor system to bring red flags to attention. Unfortunately, this reasoning could also allow sex offenders, child abusers, and other predators to slip through the cracks and obtain positions working closely with children.

The new Colorado legislation, tagged right now as Senate Bill 48, would seek to close off the holes and improve the defenses. The bill, if passed, would make it so that employees or volunteers who work with children for "five or more days in a calendar month" would first have to pass a background check. The bill would also require automatic background checks for any employees or volunteers wishing to chaperone overnight sports trips. Finally, the legislation would make it illegal for private sports clubs to hire anyone who has been convicted of a sex crime, or whose record includes a child abuse-related felony. The checks would look at criminal record information both in and outside of Colorado.

The State Representative who is helping to push the bill through to approval thinks it is inexcusable that Colorado has let a "gaping hole" in the system fester for so long. He's right: while more kids probably play sports inside their school districts than outside of school, there are still thousands and thousands of youths participating in these private sports clubs each year. It's about time that a law be put in place to protect them.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.