Proposed youth sports safety ordinance recieves pushback from league leaders

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A heated debate inside One Government Center Thursday. Safety requirements for youth sports is at the center of it all. A new ordinance is being proposed by a Toledo City Council Committee. Some say it would harm kids, not help them.

Councilwoman Cecelia Adams says the idea follows the Mayor's Recreation Task Force. But some coaches wonder why the city wants to step in now, arguing the leagues have been in place and thriving for decades without any help.

Councilwoman Adams calls this common sense.

"It's not legally debatable," she said.

She says as the city improves the parks, Toledo needs to better protect the kids, give parents peace of mind and follow a national safety trend.

"This is not intended to make it harder for anyone that's already playing or having kids play under their supervision. In fact, we're trying to increase participation," said Councilwoman Adams.

"What you need to change is the help, the funding," said Brian Hunt. He's been a coach with the Mid City football league in Toledo for nine years.

No one is arguing the proposal to make sure coaches are certified in CPR and concussion response. But the ordinance would also require background checks.

"If I committed a violent crime in 1989 and I hadn't been in any trouble since and I paid my debts to society and I've been an upstanding citizen, playing my part to the community, why can't I give back to teach individuals about decision making and things that I made this mistake on going down the wrong path," said Reverend Christopher Mcbrayer. He's the head girl's basketball coach at Scott High School and he also grew up playing in the local youth sport leagues.

It also includes $25,000 insurance for each youth participant.

"For them to say they need any kid to have insurance in a park I believe that's wrong," said Darrell Berry. He's been a commissioner with the Mid City football league for a decade.

Councilwoman Adams credits Willie Copeland who runs Little League Baseball with the idea. He believes the leagues need more structure and rules.

"We really believe that in order for youth sports to go ahead in the city, we need to update with what's going on around the country and part of that is being under a governing body that puts things in place," said Copeland.

"We have volunteers. We have fundraisers. We have as long as I've been here... I haven't ever seen the city give us a dime. So why do you have say so about what happens?" asked Hunt.

Councilwoman Adams says the move would allow organizations to make their own decisions about who is running teams. She says they'll look at clarifying the language and hopes council will vote March 19.

The current proposed ordinance is attached to this article.