Managing the Membership of Sports Organization: The Legalities of Banning a Member

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ChalkBucket Founder
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Sep 3, 2005
Region 4 / Wisconsin
This discussion is to have no real real links to current accusations...etc. The goal of this thread is to vaguely discuss the logistics behind banning a member from a sports organization. I believe it is much more complex than many people believe. The laws in various countries are very complex. The laws of countries CAN be discussed in this thread. Country bashing is not allowed.

Once again...don't even hint towards something that is real...or your post will be deleted.


I have received many comments lately stating that sports organizations should be:
  • completely responsible for their members and member clubs.
  • completely responsible for non-member clubs in the same sport.
  • able to supersede the law.
  • posting pictures of banned members.
  • releasing all of the banned members information and investigation details to the public.
  • banning members before they are convicted in a court of law.
  • quicker in their investigations.
Please comment on the above. This conversation can turn in any direction it would like...except to finger pointing and real world names and events.

Please be constructive.


The views of the members of The Chalk Bucket are just that...their own views.

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oaky folks. i'll be long winded on this one tonight. sure hope Gymlawmom pipes in. see you tonight. so much ground to cover. criminal law and civil law and it how it all interelates here in the US. can't wait! see you tonight.:)
Weeeeellll, over 'ere

European Law Superceeds
British Law which superceedes
Organisational rules and regs.

Persons who operate a profession that has a regliatory governing body ie doctors, lawyers, vets are not allowed to practice if they violate the rules of that body but these are a limited few professions.

Apart from that the governing bodies only have the right to ban a member from participating in their events - think (organization name removed) and doped athletes, so they may compete at a national level but not at the olympics.

Organiastions must make sure that they do not afect a persons right to exercise their profession free from undue burden and hinderence, thats why discaplinary proceedings take so long, they have to be right. - Innocent til proven guilty and all that

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Sports Organization should take accusations seriously and act on them swiftly. Once they ban a member based on a thorough investigation they should ensure that other gymnasts are not in harm's way. THey should post a picture of the banned coach because because people can easily change their names/locations. The Sports Organization should require all gyms to become members. Then all coaches would be required to have a background check, and no coaches on the banned list could be hired.

If the Sports Organization claims they can't require membership, they could change their policies to read: any gym/club competing at one of our sanctioned events has to be a member. Gym clubs that are not members of our organization (because of banned list issues or previous convictions) CANNOT send gymnasts to compete at our sanctioned events with one of their unbanned/unconvicted coaches who happens to have individual membership.
If the Sports Organization claims they can't require membership, they could change their policies to read: any gym/club competing at one of our sanctioned events has to be a member. Gym clubs that are not members of our organization (because of banned list issues or previous convictions) CANNOT send gymnasts to compete at our sanctioned events with one of their unbanned/unconvicted coaches who happens to have individual membership.

Am I to understand that in some countries that you do not have to be a member to compete at sanctioned meets? I am AMAZED that that can be okay. In the Canada in the gym needs to be affiliated, the coaches need to be affiliated and the gymnasts need to be affiliated inorder to compete at any level including rec. NO point in being affiliated if it isn't required....odd.
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I believe over here that although BG has an almost monopoly, there is also UKGym - you have to be insured to compete but I'm not sure if you have to be registered with BG to compete.

You can't deny someones profession on unshaky ground. Here to work with children you have to undergo a CRB (Criminal Records Check), at any level, someone with a criminal record for abuse would not be permitted to work with Children.

Posting pictures of banned individuals over here is certainly not done - once a conviction is spent then it cannot be held against you, however the CRB holds the names of people on the child protecion register who have committed such offences that would prevent them from working with children or vunerable adults again.

I believe that in the US a gym does not need to be a member of (organization name removed) to send athletes to (organization name removed) events and meets. Because of this, coaches who are banned and persons identified as *** offenders can be employed by gyms and they can send their gymnasts to sanctioned meets.

In my opinion, all governing gymnastics bodies should require membership as a prerequisite to participation at sanctioned meets and other events. I think they should have a process in place with defined time parameters for responding to complaints against coaches or officials as well as a written policy as to what kinds of conduct will result in a coach being banned and what standard they will use for assessing the evidence. That information should be distributed to every athlete and should be required to be signed by athlete and parents prior to being admitted as a member of the gymnastics organization. Similarly, coaches and judges who work for member gyms or judge sanctioned meets should be similarly required to read and sign the conduct policy. In order to become a member, the coach will have to consent to being banned from the organization publicly if a violation is found to have occurred. If a coach or other official is found to have violated the conduct policy he or she should be banned. The banned person's photo should be posted on the USAG website and the portions of the conduct policy which he has been found to have violated should be publicly stated. It should be made clear that this is not a criminal determination but a determination made by the gymnastics organization. The individual's gym should be notified and all of the local/state affiliated gymnastics organizations should be made aware that this person has been banned. At the time that an athlete or parent makes the complaint, or at any point during the investigation, if the allegations are such that if true they would result in a criminal action, the gymnastics organization should refer the matter to the criminal authorities while at the same time continuing their own investigation.

My two cents.
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  • completely responsible for their members and member clubs.
In a perfect world, yes.
  • completely responsible for non-member clubs in the same sport.
If you are not a member of something, I don't see how others can be completely responsible for you. You are choosing not to take part in the group. What might be a better idea is to not make this choice an option. If you are going to be a sports club, you must be apart of that sports organization (and there should only be 1 overriding organization, so things are consistent).

able to supersede the law.

posting pictures of banned members.

releasing all of the banned members information and investigation details to the public.
Only to the extent the law allows

banning members before they are convicted in a court of law.
No, in the U.S. people are inncont until proven guilty. I think they should be suspended during any investigation, but let's not jump the gun and ban them before being found guilty.

quicker in their investigations.
Responsible for it's members - yes, to the extent reasonable by law.

Responsible for non-members - no. They are not members for a reason. While they may reflect poorly on a good, well run, organization, it is not the responsiblity of said organization to police other organizations. That's why they are separate. It should be CLEARLY stated in any press expressing the situation clearly.

Organizations should not be able to write or imply that they enforce the law other than governing bodies that are expressly made to do so. Police exist for a reason, and citizens have the empowerment to uphold the law within reason. The organization should work closely with law enforcement, and make streamlined communication tools to ensure those who should not be aren't (yes, it's worded funny; but it works). If an organization places itself above the law, it is saying that it is the end all. There is the off chance that a "*** offender" is not someone who ever hurt a child or even committed any form of sexual abuse. Public indecency, willfully or not, near a school or gathering of children is grounds for being on the *** offenders list in America. Accidental, or not. There are similiar situations where a child was never truly in danger, but the registry holds no differentiation. Further, there are individuals who SHOULD be on registries that are overlooked or ignored because of one reason or another. In situations like this, it is the club's/individual ownership that holds the responsiblity to put a frame work in place that protects the children. Cameras, open viewing areas, open doors and the like. Athletes should not be left alone with adults alone, and there is never a reason for this. Some parents may overlook this, but as a coach I never will. Children, as good natured and good hearted as they are, can really interrupt a career, or create a void of trust, simply by implying something bad happened when it really didnt, and have no grounds. Once the thought is out there, and the question of "did it happen" exists, generally it's as good as done. Coaches need to protect themselves, clubs need to protect their parents and coaches, and in turn - organizations should create a strong guide for what is expected of its members in terms of conduct. Enforcement should be based on severity and instance, with good evidence supporting the claims.

In the United States, people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Given the situation, no organization should post a picture, personal information (other than public information such as Name for reference), or any other individually identifiable items prior to conviction. Since we assume innocence, doing any banning or posting of any materials, could be considered slander and bias towards conviction of guilt prior to a court ruling. This is slander. This is against the law. This is also dangerous to the individual, as it brings public opinion to bare on the individual, and mob rule is never pretty. While it may never get to an extreme that it causes a danger, the thought that a trusted individual may have harmed or abused someone's child may provoke anger and irrational reactions. Publishing personal information, even as little as a picture, may promote action that otherwise would not have happened. The organization needs to protect itself from such events, as well as its members. Post trial, I believe the institution should simply post it's stance on banning, it's stance on how it handled the situation, and keep internal information for future use that the public has no need of seeing. Again, coming back to a streamlined effort of communication with law enforcement, public records of name changes and location changes, should be tracked if the individual was a member of the organization - something the public has no need of knowing, nor any use for, but could be useful in preventing the individual from harming others.

In the end of the day, if the organization feels and individual is a detriment to it's message, goals, or philosophy, it has the right to ban or revoke membership as it sees fit. Just like any other group, it is protecting itself from exposure and from affiliation. However, it should also consider the consequences of it's actions and how the public will view those actions.
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Responsible for members: Yes, but all members (athletes, coaches, boards, judges, etc.)

I have known people who were falsely accused (not in gymnastics, but within a school) and the accusers (yes, there was more than one) recanted after a year or so went by. So I believe any governing organization needs to take any allegation very seriously but also very cautiously. The governing body of an organization represents everyone.

Responsible for non-members: It is hard to be responsible when you have no control. I think proper reporting is all one can do.

Supersede the law: This is a tricky one. One can be criminally not-guilty, but still be held accountable in a civil (or non-criminal) proceeding. I honestly think Child Protective Services might be one way to still follow the law, but make an effort to protect.

Posting pictures of banned members: I don't see the value in this. People change their looks, age, etc.

Releasing information on banned members to the public: IF the banned member was found guilty in a court of law, then I would say it is public anyhow, so why not. However, if there is no criminal prosecution, this issue becomes trickier.

Banning members before they are convicted: This whole thing scares me. There are false allegations made...maybe not that common, but YIKES, this is someone's whole life and career. On the other hand, if enough time goes by, then there might be a statute of limitations. I am just glad that I am not a person who would have to make this decision.

Quicker investigations: Not if it makes the investigation incomplete.

There are just no easy answers here.
I'm just glad I'm not in a position to look into these things, I would not be able to do it. The whole idea is just overwhelming, and I really don't think I have much to offer to the thread, but I will say that I think some kind of system needs to be initiated where xxxx,xxxx,xxxx,xxxx and other organizations which sanction meets and events work together in banning individuals who have been proven as a risk to children. As it is now, what is to prevent a xxxxx banned member from jumping ship to a purely xxxxxx or xxxxxx club in another location? I'm guessing those organizations have their own rules regarding banning professional members, but I think they all need to come together for the well-being of all children involved in gymnastics, regardless of which governing body they participate under. It also wouldn't hurt to have some kind of agreement to exchange similar information between the US, Canada, and other locales where coaches can easily move and resume coaching.
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People may be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but a private organization does not have to apply the same criteria. As long as all members understand what the conduct policy is, what standard of proof will be required before the organization will find that a member has violated such policy, and what the consequences will be if any such violation is found, I don't see why the organization can't and shouldn't make such a determination and post pictures of banned members. As long as what they are stating on the website and to anyone who inquires is accurate (i.e., Coach XXXXXX has been banned from the XXXX because the organization found as a result of their private investigation that he violated their conduct policy by making sexually suggestive comments to an underage gymnast), it is not slander and it does not violate their rights. When you choose to coach or officiate within an organized sport, you consent to be bound by their rules. They are not superseding criminal law, they are simply enforcing a separate conduct policy that it is entirely within their authority.
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As Bog said...please respect the original design of this thread. This is a very real and relevant topic which can easily be discussed without real names.
i'm busy working at the moment. but wanted to comment quickly since i don't see Gymlawmom commenting on the above post. and here is where it gets complicated and most people don't understand our laws as most people follow them.

libel, slander, defammation, etc; are NOT against the law here in the US. those civil allegations are a matter of civil laws and can cause you to be sued. the remedy for false accusations and rumors are what our civil courts are made of. just wanted to clarify that. i'll be back.

now, in a hypothetical, if a group of people (mob rule) protest outside the home of vermin and a certain individuals within the group beats down the vermin as he walks out of the house, a prosecutor would have to make a determination as to whether to charge everyone for inciting a riot that caused the vermin to be assaulted. usually, only the certain individuals would be charged if it can be shown who it was that actually beat down the vermin. THIS is criminal law.

now if it turned out that they had the wrong vermin? the judge can assign damages and compel those certain individuals responsible for the beat down pay up by way of fines. this is a part of a CRIMINAL proceeding that are governed by criminal law.

the now wrongly identified vermin can then file a civil suit against the entire group including those certain individuals responsible for the beat down and rely on the theory of preponderance and attempt to show that it is more likely than not that the 'mob' was wholly responsible inciting the 'mob' that caused him physical and emotional damages. even loss of consortium. and those would include punitive damages that arose that may have ruined his reputation. as in defammation and slander. this is a CIVIL proceeding where no laws were broken.

i point this out now so there is no confusion between criminal laws and civil laws as we proceed with this topic. and under certain circumstances in british law/royal court you can be jailed for defammation, slander, libel, etc; maybe a barrister is on this site and can explain exactly how that works in their system.

i'll be back.:)
Here is where I think Sports Organizations need to do a better job of....

if a Coach gets fired or resigns from a gym after allegations of abuse are made and no charges were ever filed for whatever reason they can easily go to another gym and get hired without a word about it. So if they move around enough they can do this for years before anyone catches on. Legally the firing facility can not give any information on why they were fired, you can only give the basics.

I think we need to find a way that Member Club need to report abuse allegations even if charges haven't been filed. I'm not saying all allegations have to be investigated that would be determined by the severity of the allegations. but then the Governing Organization would be able to see a pattern with a coach. It is scary when you hear about these people who have moved from Coast to Coast and have allegations at numerous gyms and nothing has been done because no real charges were filed, so everyone's hands are tied until they finally go too far. But don't we want to try and stop it before it goes too far.
*sigh* I shall concede, you are correct that Libel and Slander are not criminal. However, they are against the law. There is a reason it goes to court. A major organization (unlike those we are not allowed to put acronyms for, obviously) has a lot of clout in the community. If XZY Association says that so and so is a child toucher, then so and so must be - even if it was proven false in court.

Most people are gonna look at my post and TL;DR, so at this point Im just gonna back out of it. So long chalk bucket.
the reason it goes to a civil court, not criminal court, is because certain state 'statutes' have been violated or breached. not laws. laws are what you break. get tickets. go to jail, etc;

and ryantroop, please stick around. you work in a gym. and, i am not computer language savvy and have no idea what TL or DR mean.?