Youth league officers are just like you and me. In fact, they are you and me. Most of us have day jobs and do not have the luxury of a huge professional staff or unlimited corporate resources to do the job of keeping our kids and coaches on the field or on the court. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that among the topics we find the most challenging are those that take us most away from the reason we got into youth sports in the first place. Let’s look at league officers’ Top 5 Most-Hated Topics, as surveyed by the staff of League Network Magazine, starting with #5.
#5 Learning League Management Best Practices
While many league leaders bring many years of youth sports experience with them into their roles, the fact remains that there is no single place for league managers to learn best practices in their sport and on killer topics such as background checking, volunteer recruitment, buying insurance, specifying a league management system, fundraising, dealing with a crisis, injuries, et cetera. While organizations such as League Network have designs on creating the ultimate one-stop-shop for how-to’s for running youth leagues, the job is just starting.
#4 Recruiting & Retaining Volunteers
Some find recruiting harder than retaining volunteers. Some find the opposite. Many point to two factors that determine whether volunteers are at the top of your problem list. First, do you have a ready supply of new volunteers comping into your league? If so, your stress level will be lower on recruiting. Second, have you set appropriate expectations among volunteers for their workload and commitment? If so, you’re likely to keep people longer than if there are surprises.
#3 Finding Fields and Courts
With the proliferation of private leagues and clubs out-pacing the construction of new facilities many-fold, the competition for court, field and ice time is at an all-time high. Most facilities have two price cards, one for non-profits, the other for for-profits. Typically, non-profit rates are about 1/3 the price of for-profits. And scheduling puts a lot of stress on athletes, coaches and parents, with many practice times set for late night or early morning, with tight turnaround times between school and sleep.
#2 Nasty Parents
If you Google “nasty youth sports parents,” you will get about 257,000 hits. Stories abound online of youth sports parents who abused his or her kids, an umpire, other parents, or acted out their inner brat. While there is no silver bullet for curing nasty parents, watching the movie Kicking and Screaming is a good start.
#1 Fundraising & Budgeting
In a gathering of 90 youth league officers in San Diego early this summer, League Network found that 87% of the volunteer and career youth sports officers said that fundraising and budgeting were their biggest challenges. Among the quotes: “As much as I love leading the kids on the field and in the gym, I hate fundraising even more. In the end, fundraising will be the reason I leave youth sports.” “Every year I’m $40,000 short, and every year I have to sell $120,000 worth of candy, raffle and banquet tickets to make up the difference. And that’s on top of my day job.” “If there were a way to balance my budget with fundraising that didn’t eat up all my available spare time, I would do it in a heartbeat. Somebody’s got to invent an assisted fundraising utility for youth sports leagues.” Stay tuned to LeagueNetwork.com for new developments in assisted fundraising for youth leagues and tournaments.