July 31, 2023

Ensuring the safety of children while participating in organized sports is a top priority for many parents. Unfortunately, safety concerns have only increased due to recent reports of inappropriate behavior from some adults working with young athletes. Such incidents have proven tragic for the young athletes and their parents. In addition, they can cause lasting damage to the organization involved. 

These harmful results make it crucial for businesses to take steps that prevent abuse. One of the most critical steps youth sports organizations can take is to conduct thorough background checks. For example, companies should run background checks on any adult interacting with these young athletes; companies should not make exceptions for anyone.

How Often Should Sports Organizations Conduct Background Checks? 

Companies should run background checks at least once before an individual starts working with youth athletes. However, how often afterward varies, depending on local and state regulations. For example, some states have implemented legislation mandating background checks for coaches, volunteers, and other personnel involved in youth sports.

A general rule of thumb is to employ continuous monitoring. Continuous background screening typically involves post-hire screening designed to monitor real-time safety concerns and changes to employees’ criminal records. A potential policy could include periodic re-screening every one to two years to ensure a safe environment for youth athletes. This practice also informs the organization of potential changes in the individual’s background.

Who Should Organizations Screen?

Companies should conduct background checks on anyone over 17 years old if they will work with or around children. Doing this may discourage sexual predators from applying for your organization to avoid background checks. However, not all background check companies screen for criminal convictions outside of a person’s state of residence. 

According to some reports based on 57,000 background checks, nearly half of the applicants had criminal convictions in a different state than the one they lived in. This statistic emphasizes the importance of having a background check company perform nationwide searches. They should also use several criminal record sources, such as state criminal record repositories, county courthouses, and other agencies.

Because non-profit organizations often do not compensate their personnel, they can run into a loophole with background checks. For example, their employees may become exempt from background check requirements. This loophole allows individuals to avoid such checks. Youth organizations wanting to avoid this problem should clarify that anyone over 18 working with or around children must consent to a background check.


Youth organizations should conduct background checks at least once a year, not just when an individual applies for a position. Reviewing employees’ backgrounds ensures that organizations have trustworthy individuals working with or around children. To provide more protection, some organizations may conduct background checks more often, such as every six months.

The best way to ensure comprehensive background screenings is by partnering with a trustworthy background check company. The right provider will conduct a thorough screening that involves checking criminal records nationwide.


Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.