I have been living in Alexandria, Va for the past two years. I quickly recognized that many national and regional associations representing groups of professionals or an industry are headquartered here. A sampling of my favorites include:
There must be dozens more associations like this here in Alexandria, Arlington and of course in DC. My favorite has to be the Stone, Sand, & Gravel Association.
But there is one that I have not stumbled on. Any kind of national association representing the seven million + sport coaches in the US who make huge positive contributions in our communities every day. Some would answer that SHAPE America, formerly AAHPERD, does that. But a review of “Who We Are” reveals no mention of sport coaches–actually its states this:
“…the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level —from preschool to university graduate programs.”
Please do not construe this as criticism of SHAPE as it does wonderful work on behalf of other health and physical activity professions, but not to the same level for sport coaches. There has been some very good opportunities to lobby for federal funding–policy studies have come out in favor of it. The two most notable ones are:
- The First Lady’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity in 2010
- The Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Education’s report on Promoting Better Health for Young People in 2000.
Section 5 of the 2010 Report to the President from the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity listed one recommendation dealing with sport coaches.
Recommendation 5.7: State and local educational agencies should be encouraged to support interscholastic sports and help decrease prohibitive costs of sports by curbing practices such as “pay-to-play,” working with other public and private sector partners.
- The Federal government should continue to support programs, such as those sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, that train and develop more qualified coaches for intramural sports teams and programs, and should collaborate with state, and local governments, nonprofits, philanthropies, and private sector partners to ensure that these programs are more widespread.
- State and local governments should consider strategies to make facilities and coaches more available for local youth sports teams.
- College and university sports teams should engage K-12 teams to increase opportunities for young people to learn about sports and receive coaching, and local sports figures and busi- nesses should become more involved in supporting or sponsoring K-12 sports teams.
The November 2000 Promoting Better Health for Young People through Physical Activity & Sports; A Report to the President from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Education. (Find it here online.) called for investment in the preparation of sport coaches. Its Strategy Seven specifically dealt with sport coaches:
“Enable youth sports and recreation programs to provide coaches and recreation program staff with the training they need to offer developmentally appropriate, safe and enjoyable physical activity experiences for young people.”
Is there a need for such an organization to advocate for sport coaches on a national level? I whole heartedly state yes. Why? No one stood up and to advocate and secure federal funding to better prepare sport coaches to work in our communities. From what I know, other than Up2Us (since 2008 or so), no organization has done so. The 2000 opportunity might have been the best one since the federal budget situation was much better then.
So where do we go from here? There are numerous associations of sport coaches at the local and regional/state level and national sport specific ones as well. For starters, maybe an umbrella organization should be formed to represent their interests at the national level? Followed by an expansion to represent all 7+ millions American sport coaches working every day at every level of sport in our communities.
If the professionals in the stone, sand, and gravel industry can do it, why not sport coaches?