In recent years, issues such as abuse by coaches and spectators, bullying amongst players, and athletes pushing themselves too hard have all caused financial, physical and mental harm to the people involved in youth sports. To better understand and ultimately address these issues, Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Benjie Wimberly sponsor legislation to establish a Youth Sports Task Force.
Under the bill (A-2957), this task force would be comprised of various experts, parents, and youth athletes who would examine aspects of youth sports in New Jersey. The task force would study issues including, but not limited to:
- Financial oversight for organizations and sponsors of youth sports teams;
- Protection for referees and other officials from abuse;
- Training for coaches to recognize bullying and harassment;
- Protection for parents and athletes from unscrupulous sponsors;
- Proper spectator conduct; and
- Workshops to help parents recognize intimidation and abusive coaching.
The task force would then be required to issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.
Upon the bill unanimously passing the full Assembly Thursday, Assembly sponsors McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) and Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following joint statement:
“Youth sports are supposed to provide a positive outlet for children and teenagers to exercise, socialize and have fun with one another. Unfortunately, many of our young athletes are becoming disillusioned and are even being put in harm’s way as a result of the increasing competition and pressure placed on them.
“If we are to do better for our children, we must understand the issues affecting today’s youth sports – such as abusive coaching practices, spectator harassment, bullying amongst players, and unscrupulous business tactics by team sponsors. This task force will help our state provide our youth with the safe, enjoyable athletic experiences they deserve.”
The bill heads to the Senate.