One of the last things you want to get involved in as a youth sports volunteer is a legal dispute. Emails or phone calls over disagreements with parents can be a frustrating and time consuming experience for everyone involved.
But, you can make your life easier by including waivers in your registration forms. A waiver is simply an agreement between two parties that one party will "waive" legal rights. Waivers can help protect the athletes, volunteers, and organizations during your season.
Read more in this post about common waivers that youth sports organizations require during registration and how to include them in your registration forms.
NOTE: The information provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and Jersey Watch makes no representation that the contents will effectively protect any legal rights or satisfy your legal obligations. In order to fully protect your legal rights, you should contact an attorney. The resources are not provided as legal advice to you, and should not be relied on as such.
Most youth sports programs have several different waivers that parents need to acknowledge when they register. The waivers should be kept separate from one another rather than in one large agreement. This makes the waiver easy to understand for the reader and more simple to manage for your sports organization.
Almost always, parents should be required to acknowledge each waiver in order to submit their registration and cannot complete their registration without acknowledging the waiver.
Here are a few of the most common types of waivers you should consider adding to your registration forms.
Liability waivers significantly reduce the risk for the sports organization in case players get injured during a practice or game. Since sports participation almost always includes a risk of injury, it's important that a waiver is acknowledged by each participant.
You might think that it's common sense that parents should be aware that injuries can happen during sports, but you should still require an injury liability waiver in order to participate.
Most injury waivers simply include a basic overview of the physical activities involved in the activity and state an understanding that injuries can happen during participation.
If you don't have access to an attorney or an existing waiver, you can typically find a template online. Here are a few places you can go to get liability waiver templates for youth sports:
Medical authorization forms allow a parent to provide authorization for another party to seek medical treatment for their child in their absence. Medical authorization forms are important for most youth sports programs since parents won't necessarily be available at every practice or game.
Medical authorizations may require that parents include their preferred hospital, insurance information, or an emergency contact that can be reached in case of serious injury. This information can be kept on file by coaches and other volunteers during practices and games.
To promote your sports organization you'll need to post photos of your events on your website and social media. You should make sure that you have permission from parents to use their child's image on your social media channels and in marketing materials.
A photo release can be a simple statement that acknowledges your organization may use game photos, videos, or other materials on your website or social media pages in order to promote the organization.
High quality photos from games, tournaments, and other events can be a big help when you promote your organization in your community or attract new sponsors. Make sure to get photo releases from parents before your season!
If you don't already have a photo release, you should make sure to include:
The setting where photos and videos may be taken
The types of publications that photos may be published (social media, your website, promotional flyers, etc.)
How parents can contact you if they want to request a photo or video be unpublished
You should make all of your waivers easy to access for parents and community members. A section of your website can be dedicated to important documents and agreements so that they can be viewed at any time.
Old school pen and paper registration required parents to print and sign documents before the season. However, online registration forms have made it much easier for parents to register and pay quickly online.
At the end of your registration form you can list each acknowledgement and require that the participant agree to the waiver before completing their registration.
All of your waivers can be included in your online registration form so parents complete every requirement when they register.
Poor behavior by parents and coaches is a common problem in youth sports. To help reduce complaints, mistreatment of officials, and other negativity from parents and volunteers you should create a code of conduct.
Codes of conduct can set clear expectations for everyone involved at your organizations before your season starts. You should also include specific procedures and punishments for misbehavior so that you avoid disagreements during your season.
Don't have a Code of Conduct yet? View our tips here: How to Create a Code of Conduct for Youth Sports
Refunds are part of the game in youth sports. Families might unexpectedly move before the season, players get injured, or parents decide to sign up for other activities. However, too many refunds can have a negative impact on your organization's budget.
If your organization makes large purchases before your season (like uniforms and equipment) or has had a lot of mid-season refund requests in the past, you should consider creating a refund policy that protects your organization's funding. Just like other waivers and authorizations, you can require parents read and acknowledge the refund policy at the time of registration.
Struggling to manage refunds at your organization? Check out this post: How to Write and Enforce a Youth Sports Refund Policy