Integrity Matters
August 24, 2005

Integrity a must when coaching youth sports

Question: (E-197)

Dear Jim:

A Pennsylvania Little League baseball coach of 8-year-olds allegedly paid one of his players $25 to use a bat to injure another member of their T-Ball team. The 27-year old coach didn't want the mentally disabled youngster to play and risk a loss. Is this an issue of integrity or insanity?


Adults who behave this way have serious issues involving integrity, possibly criminality and certainly maturity. At a recent Little League game, we observed a coach who encouraged players.

At the end of the game, when his team lost, he mentioned that the other team simply played a little better today.

He then reminded everyone that there will be another game and that he too will work harder to be better prepared.

His supportive approach reminded me of my favorite Little League coach, Mr. Yonkers, who patiently taught me and my buddies.

After three losing seasons under coach Yonkers, finally our team enjoyed a winning season. Even way back then, a few coaches were jerks. But our coach knew he was there to help us become better people, as we were learning to pitch, catch and hit.

Every adult, coach, parent and fan is responsible for exhibiting appropriate behaviors and leadership with and for youth - all the time. As the "playoffs" begin, please review a summary of The National Youth Sports Coaches Association and its Coaches' Code of Ethics, which is available online at:

As a coach I will:

  • Place the emotional and physical well being of my players ahead of a personal desire to win.
  • Treat each player as an individual, remembering the large range of emotional and physical development for the same age group.
  • Do my best to provide a safe playing situation for my players.
  • Promise to review and practice the basic first-aid principles needed to treat injuries of my players.
  • Do my best to organize practices that are fun and challenging for all my players.
  • Lead by example in demonstrating fair play and sportsmanship to all my players.
  • Provide a sports environment for my team that is free of drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and I will refrain from their use at all youth sports events.
  • Be knowledgeable in the rules of each sport that I coach, and I will teach these rules to my players.
  • Use those coaching techniques appropriate for each of the skills that I teach.
  • Remember that I am a youth sports coach, and that the game is for children and not adults.
Measuring one's actions against a thoughtful code of ethics, and making appropriate adjustments, will build a stronger community. All age groups will benefit. Behaving appropriately confirms that integrity matters."

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