Miami Legal Tips Blog

Proposed Statute Could Ban ‘Obnoxious’ Coaches

Sports CoachIf you or a friend or loved one have children who participate in recreational or competitive sports, you’re undoubtedly acquainted with something resembling the following experience: A coach, whether the person in charge of the team, an assistant or a parent volunteer wearing the nebulous title of “manager,” draws unusual attention to himself or herself by berating or chastising a team’s players, the referees/umpires or the other team.

At this point, they’ve gone from coaching to ranting, or worse, and more than a few onlookers all have the same thought running through their heads: “Somebody do something to shut that person up!” Within, of course, the bounds of propriety and the law.

A proposed Florida law apparently aims to address such sideline antics, according to a report from the Tallahassee Democrat. A state senator from a community outside of Ft. Lauderdale has put forth a bill that would make it compulsory to impose a minimum one-year ban on coaches whose “obnoxious” behavior results in their being thrown out of a sporting contest that involves children no older than 12.

Sen. Jeremy Ring was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “Some of the things I see on the field, they’re really scary at times. And I would say as coaches we’re supposed to be teachers and some of the behavior is just unacceptable.”

On the other side of things, the proposed law also includes instructions for the organizers of children’s sports leagues to institute an appeals process whereby coaches could make their voices heard if they regard an on-field official’s actions as heavy-handed.

The law, if passed, would not carry with it any criminal penalties. And this isn’t the first attempt to provide some statutory oversight of children’s sports leagues. In 2014, another Ring-backed bill mandated background checks for coaches.

As to whether the latest proposed law amounts to government pushing its nose into an area where it might not belong, Ring said, “My answer to that is very simple. These are all teachers and they really are showing I think more than poor judgment, dangerous judgment to not just their own children but all the children that are on the field.”


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