The Role of Community and Impact in Your Youth Sports Organization
By Melissa Wickes
June 7, 2023
Youth sports are a way to positively impact the lives of kids not just in how and when they play sports, but in the access they have to opportunities that can transform their lives for the better. As a youth sports professional, you see the benefits that youth sports can have on young kids everyday and the truth is, not every kid has the same access to them. That’s why we’re passionate about the necessity of incorporating community and impact in every youth sports organization to create more access and equity in youth sports.
Community and Impact
The second C in the dimensions of youth sports management (COACH) stands for community and impact. When you think about community and impact, it’s helpful to consider it in three buckets: philanthropy (making charitable donations), advocacy (lobbying for policies that support youth sports families), and community building (finding a shared vision with your parents, players, and coaches).
Charitable donations are a great way to create more access and equity in youth sports. First, identify a sports-based youth development organization in your community that’s supporting underserved kids and whose mission you identify with. Beyond just cutting a check, you could allow parents to add $5, $10, or $15 to their program fees during registration that you donate to the community organization.
Many youth sports management platforms will allow you to do this. You could also consider hosting a joint fundraising event with a sports-based youth development organization to rally your members around a great cause.
While lobbying on Capitol Hill might not fit into your schedule, there are other ways to advocate for programs and policies that support youth sports. An easy way to do this is by joining an existing coalition, such as the PLAY Sports Coalition, which was launched during the pandemic to try and secure funding for programs and families.
Look into what your state is doing around youth sports. Recently, New York, Minnesota, and Maryland passed legislation to provide a percentage of revenues from mobile sports betting to sports-based youth development organizations. If something like this isn’t already happening in your state, contact your local assemblyman to see if you can start a conversation. An organization such as PLAY can help you get started.
Positively affecting kids’ lives is about more than just teaching them the ins and outs of the sport(s) they’re playing. It also means providing them–and their coaches and parents—with the opportunity to connect and engage with one another and with kids in other communities.
As you think about community building—perhaps it’s offering after-school programs, a place for kids to congregate before and after practices and games, or an online destination where people can get training, coaching, and interact with one another—consider what’s most important to your parents, players, and coaches. Having a shared vision will create the most success.
A successful youth sports organization is focused on developing the complete athlete—on and off the field—and ensuring that all kids in your community have access to the benefits of sport.