I doubt that a football season goes by, that I don’t hear from someone complaining about the youth program that they coach for. It’s actually a bit sad that youth sports are so polarizing and political at times…after all, the participants are just kids and at the end of the day it’s just a game.
Truth be told, I’ve been trying to write this article for probably about a month now. It’s a topic that I expect will cover a considerable amount of content. The difficult part is where exactly to start.
I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re probably a youth football coach and on some level you’re unhappy with your org. I’m going to do my best to arm you with the information that you need to make positive change within your community. After all, that’s what youth sports SHOULD be about: having a positive impact on the youth of the area.
How non-profits work
It has been my experience that most youth sports programs function as non-profit corporations. Non-profit corporations / charitable organizations are unique business entities that afford certain rights to members and corporate officers. This is important stuff to know! Many people involve themselves with youth football organizations and they do not have the first clue about how the corporation is structured, how it should be operated and the rights of the people of the community with regards to the org.
Corporations are typically formed through a filing with the secretary of the state. Different states have different rules on formation, such as the fee to file, whether bylaws are required or not, how many corporate officers must be listed on the filings, etc. etc.
Once a corporation is formed, regardless of its’ local or national affiliation, it is an INDEPENDENT ENTITY and answers only to its’ members, the state and the federal government.
This is very important information! A few years ago, the organization I was coaching for had a problem with the president of the board of directors. A special meeting was called and the president made a claim that the conference/league president was not allowing the org in question to hold a meeting. This was either a complete fabrication by the president of the org OR the league president actually believed that he exercised that POWER over the org when he did not. In any case, the board of directors took this claim as truth and the meeting never took place.
When an organization “joins” an AYF conference or a Pop Warner league, this is a choice made by the board of directors at that time to willingly participate in a regional or national program. There are certainly terms and conditions that apply to receive a charter from a national program and your org must follow the rulebook of the national organization to continue membership.
With this said, your organization could put itself in a situation where it could jeopardize its’ membership within the regional sanctioning body. I’ve never heard of this happening, I’m sure that it has and chances are it had nothing to do with holding a special meeting to manage the organization itself.
Management & Membership
When an organization is formed, the state requires “Articles of Organization” or “Articles of Incorporation” or a “Constitution”. This document usually includes the name of the org and the purpose of formation. It can also include details on different classes of members, their rights, terms, etc. If this information isn’t supplied in the articles of organization, it should be in the bylaws. There’s a fair chance that your organization doesn’t have bylaws, which means that the organization is functioning under general laws GL of your state or commonwealth.
In my opinion, it’s pretty important to have an understanding of how an organization is intended to function. You should take the time to review your organization’s articles, bylaws or the general laws of your state that cover the operation of non-profit organizations. You may be able to view some of these documents online through your state secretary’s website, the attorney general’s site or your organization’s website.
Knowing and understanding the structure of your organization will allow you to exercise your full rights as a member of the organization and will empower you to inform others in the community who are participating in the organization as to their rights in operating the org.
Non-profit / charitable organizations, exist to make a positive mark on the world and usually the community in the surrounding area. The organization is OWNED and MANAGED by members of the community as a whole. While the “President” of the Board of Directors may preside over Director’s meetings, he does not own the program, he typically does not have any more rights or stakes in the corporation than you do.
With the information provided in part I of this series, you should have a better working knowledge of your organization and you should already be coming up with ways that you might be able to enact change within your organization to have more of a positive impact on the community. It has everything to do with the membership of the program. If the membership in numbers demands change, change must be granted.
Submitted by Coach Ken