Pro sports leagues have been known to make a mistake or two over the years. The NFL once tried an 18-week season in which each team played 16 games and had two byes, and the schedule was so disruptive that it went back to the 17-week slate we have been accustomed to for a couple decades. The NBA for a few seasons moved the three-point line in to 22 feet all around (instead of just the corners) and points per game actually dropped. And some baseball purists still believe MLB erred in adopting the designated hitter, interleague play, divisional playoffs, and instant replay (and for the serious purists … batting helmets!).
Youth sports leagues aren’t immune to mistakes. After all, the volunteers who administrate and coach are human, and sometimes their best intentions fall short of expectations. However, there are some mistakes that great youth sports leagues simply don’t make. These mostly include how a league is run and communicates with its participating families. Fortunately, these gaffes are easily preventable. Here are three of those missteps to avoid:
1. Leaving checks to linger
Parents write a check for their children to participate in a youth sports league, with a reasonable expectation that the check will be cashed in a timely manner. If it takes two months for this to happen, these same parents become understandably annoyed—they don’t want to be scouring their bank accounts to determine if something cashed or not (and they definitely don’t want to bounce a different transaction because they mistakenly thought their registration fee cleared). Online league management software solves this problem by eliminating checks and allowing families to pay via credit card. Even if you do get a few checks, they will be easy to cash quickly rather than requiring multiple trips to the bank and hundreds of transactions.
2. Overlooking roster requests
During the registration process, parents make requests for their kids to be on teams with classmates and other friends. Coaches make requests to keep rosters together season after season. Sometimes, these requests can’t be honored no matter how much league administrators try. Some parents and coaches understand that reality, some don’t. However, nothing gets them more roiled than not honoring their requests simply because you forgot or didn’t see something on a registration. Often, admins are simply so overwhelmed that they miss a request, and then need more time (and a good dose of patience when dealing with angry parents) to fix the mistake. League management solutions keep track of every request, greatly increasing the odds families and coaches will be happy when rosters are published.
3. Not getting the word out
Rainouts and other postponements happen in youth sports leagues, as well as rescheduled times and games relocated to other gyms or fields. Informing families, coaches, and officials of these changes is imperative, lest players show up to the wrong venue, at the wrong time, to a game that might have been postponed. Furthermore, parents and coaches are easily frustrated when their team (or opponent’s team) doesn’t have enough players or their game doesn’t have an umpire just because of poor communication. Online management tools help admins and other league volunteers avoid this problem by providing an efficient means to send emails and texts to teams and families. One minute to type up a note and a couple clicks will be all it takes to deliver a message to the entire league that games have been rained out.
What is the worst mistake you have made with your youth sports league, and how did you solve it?