For the coach who is expected to make decisions about athlete eligibility, selection, and disciplines, here are a few pointers:
-Insist that selection criteria are approved in advance and are as objective and concise as possible. If criteria are subjective, develop your own guidelines to evaluation athletes.
-If your organization doesn't have a policy on discipline, encourage it to adopt one. Ensure that athletes and coaches have input into the policy.
-Recommend that all selection decisions be made by a panel, not just by one person such as yourself.
-Make a habit of putting all your decisions in writing, with reasons, even when aren't required to supply a written decision. The act of writing reasons always results in a better decision.
-Look at creative ways to discipline for minor infractions, including verbal and written apologies or reprimands, assigning extra duties, or removing perks and privileges. Reserve the most serious sanction for the most serious offence.
-If called upon to make a decision in a situation where you feel you cannot be completely impartial, excuse yourself and ask that an unbiased decision-maker be appointed.
-Encourage your organization to adopt a clear, fair policy on appeals.
-If all these risk management measures fail and an appeal procedure does not resolve the situation, the coach can use his or her position of influence to persuade the parties to consider arbitration as an alternative to going to court. The Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program for Amateur Sport is now underway. If the parties agree to refer their dispute to ADR, the Centre will set them up with a panel of skilled, independent arbitrators who will resolve the issue in less time, at less cost and with less overall harm than is possible in court.