A proposed state task force would examine youth sports in the NJ

TRENTON – Youth sports would be the subject of an advancing task force project in the Legislature, with a wide range of goals ranging from abusive coaches and spectators to financial oversight of organizations and sponsors .

The bill was approved by the Assembly’s Women and Children Committee on Wednesday, but does not necessarily appear to be on a fast track for approval this month. The idea is more than two years old but has just been heard for the first time and did not yet have a sponsor in the Senate for an accompanying bill.

The proposed task force would be made up of 13 members – six with training in the legal, political, educational, social or psychological aspects of bullying and seven from the public, including parents, coaches and a young athlete who has been victim of harassment, bullying, or bullying.

“If we are to do better for our children, we must understand the issues that affect youth sports today, such as abusive practices by coaches, harassment of spectators, bullying among players and marketing tactics. unscrupulous team sponsors, ”said MP John McKeon, D-Essex. “This task force will help our state provide our young people with the safe and enjoyable sport experiences they deserve.”

The working group would be tasked with examining:

  • Protecting parents, guardians and athletes from unscrupulous business practices by for-profit entities sponsoring youth sports activities
  • Financial monitoring to strengthen the business practices of youth sports team organizations and for-profit entities sponsoring youth sports activities
  • Training for coaches to recognize the signs and symptoms of harassment, bullying and bullying
  • Ways to recognize and promote youth sport as an extension of the classroom
  • Develop training workshops for parents and guardians to recognize the signs and symptoms of harassment, bullying, bullying and abusive coaching, and on spectator behavior
  • Protection of sports officials against abusive behavior in the performance of their duties

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the nonprofit that oversees high school sports in the state, has approved the legislation.

“We believe it is high time the state looked at some of the practices in youth sports that are not regulated by the NJSIAA,” said lobbyist Paul Anzano. “And we believe this working group will provide valuable information and perhaps help us make recommendations on how best to manage youth sports at all levels, including high school sports.”

Randy Nathan of West Orange, a longtime baseball and softball coach who wrote a book on bullying in sports, said about 1.5 million children play sports in New Jersey and that ‘There are few controls on a $ 45 billion industry with rising stakes.

“It has become a situation of consumption, of return on investment. We have seen parents attacking officials, parents attacking coaches, ”said Nathan.

“I think it’s very important,” Nathan said of the planned task force. “I’ve been studying it for 10 years. And I’m delighted to hear that New Jersey will be one of the first states to take an interest in the world of youth sport.

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

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