The PCA Blog - Cleveland

Successful Return to Sports Dependent on Adults Respect of the ROOTS

by Ryan Virtue


On Thursday, May 14, Ohio State Governor, Mike DeWine’s office announced that low/non-contact sports will be permitted to start returning in Ohio on May 26.  Some other states have already started this transition.  Others eventually will in the coming weeks/months.  This is exciting because it is a step in the right direction to allow young people to return to play and learn the valuable life lessons that sports can teach when done right.  “Done right” is going to be an increasingly important phrase as we re-open the field of play.

Through this all adults will need to be very realistic about how sports will return.  Sports aren’t just going to re-start and be the same way they have been.  There are going to be new rules, health standards and restrictions that will be put in place with player safety at the center of all decisions.

Over the past several weeks the Positive Coaching Alliance has been increasingly focused on two of our core principles; the ELM Tree of Mastery and Filling Emotional Tanks.  Those will continue to be highly important principles to emphasize not just with the athletes, but with parents, coaches, admins and officials as well.  As we transition back to play, it is going to be vital that adults (parents, coaches, admins, officials, etc.) pay very close attention to PCA’s third principle, honoring the ROOTS of the game.

The only way the return of sports will be successful is if all adults around youth sports fully respect whatever rules/guidelines are put in place by the state and each individual governing body/league/organization. Like so many other industries, many youth sports organizations may take precautions that go above and beyond the minimum requirements to ensure safety and comfortability of all involved.  Whether you personally agree with these new rules or regulations or not, they will need to be respected and adhered to. If they aren't followed, the following could be unintended repercussions:

  1. Potential dismissal of the family not following the rules (which negatively impacts the kids)
  2. Kids/families who are following the rules but no longer feel comfortable due to the actions of others will leave creating unbalanced rosters and potentially making the season increasingly difficult to fulfil.
  3. If a family loses trust in leadership due to the actions of an individual, it could significantly damage the programs brand and create significant retention and recruitment issues.
  4. If the relaunch of low/no contact youth sports are not successful, it could potentially cause further delays in decisions around high school sports competition as well.

Our individual ability to respect rules, others, and ourselves will ultimately determine whether re-opening sports at this stage is the right decision or not.  It will also have a direct impact on how other sports will be permitted to continue opening. Every one of us is responsible for displaying (and modeling) our respect for the ROOTS.  We are also all responsible for our own actions and reactions.

To reiterate a statement by PCA teammate, Jake Wald in this incredibly well written blog, "Getting back to sports is an opportunity to re-imagine why we play, why we sign our kids up, and why we coach."

Communication of the importance of respecting the ROOTS will be increasingly important even before sports return.  Administrators will greatly help themselves if they are proactive with their communications of what the rules will be and why it will be vitally important to obey them.  Let’s start setting the appropriate mindset now before sports actually return.

Ryan joined PCA-Cleveland as Partnership Manager in 2018. As Partnership Manager, Ryan is responsible for prospecting, qualifying, developing and closing partnership opportunities in the Cleveland area. In 2018, Ryan has been performing the dual role of Partnership Manager while also maintaining a strong board presence. He’s also managed multiple events for the Chapter. In 2019, he was promoted to Partnership and Development Manager. Prior to joining PCA-Cleveland as the Partnership Manager, Ryan served as the Manager of Affiliate Associations for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). Ryan is a former collegiate athlete and a collegiate and youth coach. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, he was a standout athlete at South Carleton High School (baseball and volleyball), and went on to play baseball at Niagara University. Since graduating college, Ryan has dedicated his career to providing positive experiences to young athletes.

Stay connected