Sarah Spicer
Published on

With schools starting up and school sport resuming, it is a good time for sport organisations to review and update their Code of Conduct. Your Code of Conduct should set out the expected behaviour for everyone involved – from centrefield to the sideline.

Sports organisations bring together a wide variety of people for their love of sport and the enjoyment of participation. Ideally, the environment should be safe, respectful and inclusive. Despite this, unacceptable behaviour is commonly seen in the game and on the sideline, particularly in the youth sporting environment.. Your Code of Conduct is in place to protect individuals and to prevent unacceptable behaviour deterring players from participating in sport.

Using your Code of Conduct to Tackle Unacceptable Behaviour:

Your Code of Conduct should extend beyond the behaviour required by participants, to include the level of acceptable behaviour for everyone - coaches, staff, families, supporters, volunteers and officials. A code of conduct can set different behavioural expectations for specific groups. For example, parents should be expected to lead by example, be supportive, patient and accept referee decisions, even if they disagree with them.

It is important to raise awareness in your organisation and community that a Code of Conduct exists and what it says.  Circulate your Code of Conduct to all parents at the start of the season and send a copy home with participants, make it available at registration and display it at your venue and on your website. Alternatively, it may be preferable to schedule a meeting at the start of the season with key groups, such as parents and coaches, to discuss expected behaviour and go through your Code of Conduct.

Further actions to tackle unacceptable behaviour include:

  • Asking parents, families, volunteers and coaches to call out inappropriate behaviours (where safe to do so);
  • Creating weekly or monthly awards to recognise participants for good sportsmanship and positive behaviour; and
  • Setting out a simple and non-threatening way to report bad behaviour.

It is important to move forward with a collaborative approach in combating unacceptable behaviour and adhering to the expected standards of your Code of Conduct.

If you have any questions about your Code of Conduct or if you’d like help to establish a Code of Conduct to suit your organisation, please reach out to me at the team so we can help.

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Disclaimer: The information contained here is of a general nature and should be used as a guide only. Any reference to law is to New Zealand law and legislation. We recommend before acting on it, you consult your accountant or tax adviser.