Foster parents, teachers and school volunteers are all required to pass criminal background checks under Arizona law, but coaches and volunteers who work for youth sports leagues aren’t. That leaves a lot of latitude for athletic organizations to decide who should work with kids, including in sports that may involve close physical contact or one-on-one practice. In the wake of revelations of sexual abuse of hundreds of teen athletes in USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming, as well as recent prosecutions of Valley coaches for inappropriate behavior with students, many parents are concerned about safety. Checking Arizona organizations The Arizona Republic asked more than two dozen youth sports organizations in the Phoenix area about their screening standards. All but one said they background check their coaches, but several said volunteers who aren’t coaches may participate without being screened. The outlier was Team Arizona Basketball. Josh Gonzales, co-owner of the club, said five coaches have undertaken background checks to meet requirements of Amateur Athletic Union and NCAA-certified tournaments. But the club does not require parent volunteers who are co-coaches to be background checked. Co-coaches attend all practices and games and fill in when another coach cannot make a game, Gonzales said. He declined to comment further. MORE FROM… Read full this story
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