Safety and security are at the forefront at all sporting events, from professional to little league.
When entering an NFL stadium, fans know to keep their belongings in clear plastic bags. MLB fans expect to have to walk through metal detectors when entering the stadium. Security personnel is dispersed throughout arenas.
While youth organization events may not have bag searches and metal detectors set up, security and safety is still a priority at all games and tournaments. Clubs need to ensure all spectators and players are safe when attending events. This includes protecting fans, monitoring weather conditions, ensuring the playing surfaces are safe to play on, and that medical equipment and personnel are on-hand in case of an emergency.
Create a Risk Management Plan
Before holding an event, it’s important to make sure your youth club has a risk management plan in place. This allows the organization to develop procedures for how to handle emergency situations. This can include getting legal and insurance documents in place, assigning roles to staff members and creating a checklist to follow in case of an emergency. These plans should include how to handle situations involving both spectators and athletes.
Set Event Rules
It’s important for organizations to create and distribute rules for the event. This gives the club the chance to establish regulations to try to curb potentially dangerous behavior and situations. These rules should be given to all participants prior to the event.
Ensure Medical Personnel & Equipment are On-Hand
All events should have trained medical personnel present. This can include EMTs and medical trainers to account for various situations, including medical emergencies and athlete injuries. Youth clubs should also make sure first aid equipment is on-hand and staff and personnel are trained on how to use it. Staff should also be trained in basic CPR and AED.
Check Playing Surfaces for Safety
Organizations have the responsibility to ensure that playing surfaces are safe for athletes to play on. Facility experts and youth club staff should inspect the competition surfaces prior to the start of the event to ensure all requirements are met and the surface is safe and free of obstacles that could potentially injure athletes.
Verify Your Insurance Policy Covers the Event
Youth club administrators need to ensure their insurance policy covers the event. If their current policy doesn’t cover the organization’s needs, then an additional policy may need to be taken out for the event. Administrators should work with their insurance agent to verify what coverage is needed.
Make Sure Athletes Sign Liability Waivers
Another parameter clubs should take prior to an event is to create a liability waiver and have it signed by all registrants before competing. This form can help protect the organization in case an emergency does occur.
Hire Security Personnel
Sporting events can be unpredictable. Between feuding parents and rowdy spectators, organizations need to ensure they have personnel in place to handle security situations. Hiring an outside company to handle security detail can help take the pressure off your organization’s staff for having to break up altercations or put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. Hiring professionals can help assure your club, the spectators and the athletes that they will be safe at the event.
Monitor the Weather
One wild card for every sporting event – especially outdoor ones – can be the weather. The forecast can be unpredictable. When planning an event, it can be impossible to know exactly what the weather will be like that day. For that reason, your organization needs to have plans in place to account for various weather situations. All facilities should ensure they have severe weather shelters in place. This can be critical if severe storms move in and athletes and spectators need to take cover quickly – especially if lightning is present. Organizations should appoint staff members to watch the radar during the event and monitor imminent weather.
Have a Plan for Extreme Heat
Another weather issue clubs need to monitor is heat. If conditions are extremely hot, it can pose dangerous situations for athletes. Youth clubs should check with medical professionals as to what temperatures are appropriate for athletes to play in and document these thresholds. Staff should monitor the forecast and the current temperatures and have plans in place for when to suspend or cancel the competition. If games need to be shortened due to temperatures, or if the schedule needs to be adjusted, event organizers should notify teams and players ASAP. Teams should also ensure they have plans in place for how to treat heat-related illnesses and ensure medical personnel is equipped with the proper tools to help athletes and spectators.