Center for Ethical Youth Coaching---Sports and Coaches: The Age of Innocence is Over

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Traditional View that Sports Provides a Safe Place for Kids to Get Away From Life's Stresses, Street Violence, Negative Influences Can't be Taken for Granted Anymore--What to Do.

The media coverage of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal covered expertly by the New York Times and many other media sources across the country has focused on the shocking fact that the alleged abuse took place within the environment of one of the sports programs that was hailed as an example of propriety and by-the-rules conduct.
What is wrong with sports, coaches, athletes, sports parents, and athletics has been commented upon non-stop since this tragedy was revealed. Yet: “This perpetrator’s formula has followed a common pattern found in most cases of sexual predators with multiple victims over a long period of time. “ Said Dr. John Mayer, an expert of violence and youth and the vice-president of the Center for Ethical Youth Coaching.
“Under the veil of an revered institution (Penn State), the perpetrator preyed on vulnerable youth (At-risk children) using goodwill and religious intentions (The name, Second Mile, the accused charitable organization is taken from the bible) and power (The perpetrator threatened to take away sports opportunities and other desperately wanted rewards) and manipulation (Special favors, rewards, treats, etc.) to enslave young people to submit to his sexual depravity. This is an old formula that works for sexual predators. The sexual crimes committed by religious leaders uncovered decades ago followed the same predatory formula. These crimes went on without detection for decades as well. Even the perpetrators superiors’ responses to the reports of impropriety followed the same pattern of action that appears to be the response of the Penn State authorities: sweep it under the rug and move on like business as usual.” Added Mayer.

As the New York Times reported ( the result of the church scandals was that the reputation of churches suffered greatly in the eyes of the general public. No longer would parents put blind trust into priests and ministers without knowledge, observation and oversight. The age of innocence ended for church leadership. Today we see the end of the age of innocence for sports.    

Sports are in a good position to clean up its practices. Research conducted by the non-profit, Center for Ethical Youth Coaching (CEYC) has uncovered very little regulation of coaches across the country. Those scattered programs in place across the country are largely weak attempts to oversee those adults in the lives of our children. Often these attempts to build credibility in the coaching ranks don’t even mention sexual abuse, the developmental needs of children, discipline, or motivation. Many offer no background checks, or training materials. Children participating in sports remain vulnerable to inappropriate adults.

To address this glaring vulnerability, the CEYC has developed the most comprehensive certification program for youth coaches that has ever been available.
“We cannot pretend to assert that our state-of-the-art certification program will end all potential child abuse instances by coaches, but research shows that being accountable to a larger governing body goes a long way in prevention and it is certainly better than what we have now.” Said Justin Mayer, the president and founder of CEYC, himself a coach, athlete and law student.

To be certified, a coach must read a training manual and then take an exam both of which cover the areas of ethics, safety, first aid, good communication, sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle, discipline, developmental issues in young people and handling special issues in youth coaching such as dealing with parents, motivating players, child abuse, and substance abuse. The coach then passes a background check from the leading security screening service and pledges to uphold the ethical standards of the CEYC. The cost of the three-year certification is $75.00 and that covers the manual, test fees and background check. All procedures can be done online at the Center’s website.

The mission of the not-for-profit Center for Ethical Youth Coaching is to raise the ethical standards of coaches who work with young athletes, through research, publication, credentialing and public presentations. As a result of raising these ethical standards, young athletes will be in the best possible position to learn and grow through sports. Sports are a tremendous way to learn about life and develop life skills; it is therefore important that coaches are prepared to guide young athletes in the most ethical manner possible.


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Dr. John E. Mayer-VP
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