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How to navigate the minefield of sports safety

The New Normal

A plethora of safety issues including child abuse, head trauma and concussion protocols, are among the greatest challenges facing sport today.

Having simmered away for years as a potential crisis for sports organizers, a series of child abuse cases in prominent youth sports organizations, most notably the high-profile criminal trial of former U.S. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, has thrust the issue of safety in sport onto center stage.

In response to the Nassar case and other similar major scandals, United States President Donald Trump signed a law last year that imposed comprehensive new regulations around the safety of child athletes.

Effective immediately, the new law requires sporting organizations to set up mandatory incident reporting systems, with random audits to ensure that abuse prevention training and mechanisms for confidential reports of suspected abuse are being made available to sports participants, coaches and volunteers.

A new framework and new challenges

The legislation brings its own set of problems – namely, how sporting organizations and mass participation events can add a layer of safety protocols that conform with the new legal requirements, including prevention training and tracking of incident reports. While the legislation is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the majority of grassroots sporting bodies don’t have the technological know-how or IT capabilities to comply with the new law, which was implemented without a ‘grace period’.

These requirements are the new normal for all activities with youth participants. Volunteers, employees, and participants all need documentation or training of some sort just to take the field,” says Jim Kelly, chief operating officer and vice president of business development at Safety One, a technology platform specializing in safety and compliance.

Safety One is the industry leader in providing parents, players, coaches and league administrators with the tools to seamlessly integrate a unified solution for all required safety, compliance and learning activities. Each athlete and coach has a unique profile in the system, tracking everything from pre-existing conditions, emergency contact information, and relevant training and safety certifications. Waivers, parental consents, background checks, training certifications are all stored in the platform, while details of injuries and accidents are reported, prompting notifications and injury reports to be sent to parents and administrators.

“We pull all the different components together and lay all that information out in a very simple way. It’s a mobile platform, everything is done in real-time. It’s so important to have everything at the fingertips of the users, and that’s where the technology comes in,” says Kelly.

In addition to the complexity of complying with these new regulations, there is the added cost of compliance, and, as with most successful technology, Safety One delivers significant cost savings to its customers by automating the processes and simplifying the administration of these items.

Innovation is changing the game

Technology is also where Rosterfy has found its niche. The workforce management leader has combined with Safety One to streamline and simplify background checks for several clients, including Spartan Race, the rapidly-growing obstacle course event operator.

“Rosterfy is all about helping organizations run their systems and events smoothly, and so are we. There are really complementary strengths… Through Rosterfy all volunteers and staff are creating their profiles, signing up for shifts, confirming work assignments, you name it. Safety One inherits that profile information and creates a safety profile for everyone in the workforce,” Kelly says.

Safety One and Rosterfy worked together to create an integrated system that merges Safety One’s individual profiles – from allergies, medical history, and paperwork – making it accessible through either of the company’s databases.

Beyond convenience, The partnership also gives Safety One access to a holistic database of volunteers, allowing it to run automated background checks – cutting out hours of manual labor and paperwork for legal teams and major events.

“Our mission has always been to simplify safety and compliance. With major organizations, we can see that in scale – when large event operators stage events they need to do all this at a massive scale, and everyone sees the economic value in having all the information centralized, in a mobile platform and in one place,” says Kelly.