Articles Written By Dale Lee

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Organizing and Leading a Church Sport League©

Article Directory
Church Recreation Ministry (CRM) Sport League
Serving as a Sport League Leader
Activities and Decisions Related to Organizing a Sport League
Preseason Activities for a Sport League
Operating a Sport League after the Season Starts
Evaluating a Sport League after the End of a Season
Your Comment Is Wanted

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Church Recreation Ministry (CRM) Sport League

A sport league is organized to provide people the opportunity to enjoy the participation and competition of the designated sport. Several ways a CRM can relate to a sport league are:

1. Organize a sport league for which the CRM maintains control of the operation of the league and its rules.

2. The CRM can through a collaborative effort partnership with other sponsors to organize and operate a sport league. The CRM will have limited control of the operation of the sport league.

3. The CRM sponsors a team that participates in a sport league that the CRM may not have a voice in how the sport league is operated.

Depending on the situation, each of the three previous listed sport league options can be a valid option for a CRM.

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Serving as a Sport League Leader

There is not much glory to organizing and leading a church sport league when the teams’ coaches and members are the focus of attention. The one thing that is important to remember is that for the teams to be able to play, they must have a league. A well organized and operated sport league can be a valid and an important ministry of the church.

There is a time that the leaders of a sport league will get lots of attention. It is when the league organization structure breaks down. This is when the phone calls begin. The first event that causes a flock of phone calls to arrive at the leader of a league’s home will cause him to question his sanity for serving as the league’s leader. This is a rude welcome to being a leader of a sport league.

Now that I have made it sound exciting to be a leader of a church sport league, I will move on and talk about the value of being an effective sport league leader.

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Activities and Decisions Related to Organizing a Sport League

The league leaders need to have the attitude that a stated rule or bylaw of the league may be challenged, because the challenger does not think the requirement is fair or proper according to his perspective. Example: It is common for a church-sponsored league to start each game with a prayer. The prayer may be stated in the bylaws, but a team or team player may challenge the prayer. League leaders may have the opportunity for fun and intellectually engaging discussions from time to time.

The following is a list of topics, situations, etc. that need to be considered as part of the activities of organizing a sport league. The list is not a complete list. Additions to the list may need to be made to reflect unique situations associated with a specific league.

Select the sport to be played.

Write a mission statement for the league.

Identify the target audience for which the participating teams will draw players.

Determine the league leaders and a written description of their duties.

Identify the location where the league games/matches will be played.

Define the expenses that will be used to establish the league’s entry fee for each team.

Identify the minimum and maximum number of teams that can participate in the league.

Will the league operate with an odd number of teams? Scheduling of games and matches is easier if the league consists of an even number of teams.

Determine the acceptable method’s of paying the team’s league entry fee.

Secure copies of other leagues’ bylaws and rules to use as a model for developing the league’s bylaws and rules.

Bylaws should be developed with the expectation that they will be used to settle a dispute. If the league has unique requirements such as age, height, skill level, etc., how the requirements will be verified must be clearly stated.

Determine the league’s bylaws. Typical bylaws govern the teams and the team members except during an actual game or match. Supplemental rules related to the games that are unique to the league can be established as bylaws even though they affect the competition between teams.

Have a lawyer review the league’s bylaws and any potential liability issues associated with the league and sport. Verify the liability of the sponsor(s) of the league if a problem develops. Adopt the lawyer’s recommendations.

Determine if liability insurance is needed to cover/protect the league, sponsors of the league, league leaders, league referees/umpires, league volunteers, etc.

Include in the league’s bylaws a bylaw which clearly states which league leader will have the final decision concerning the disposition of an issue that develops during the execution of a league’s season that is not covered by the league’s bylaws.

If the league’s target audiences are children and youth, determine league requirements for the qualifications of the league’s leaders and teams’ coaches/volunteers must meet. This may or may not include a police background check. The cost incurred by the league is to be included in the team entry fee.

Determine the rules that will govern the league’s competition games or matches. It is best to use the rules that are available in print from organizations that exercise control over amateur leagues and school leagues. If you do not know of an existing organization, contact your local parks and recreation leaders and coaches at local schools to secure the name of such organizations. Select the rules of governing bodies that are used by similar leagues in the geographic area from which the team members are drawn. If there is a need, supplemental rules can be changed by the league’s leaders that will affect the actual playing of the game. The supplement rules overrides the normal rules of the selected governing body of the sport.

Determine if referees/umpires will be hired through an association of officials or the league will hire the officials. The officials are to be trained on the rules for the games and matches selected by the league. Each official is to be furnished with any league bylaws or supplemental rules that affect the actual play of a game or match.

Determine the equipment, uniform, balls, etc. that will be provide by the league. The expense of the equipment is to be covered by the league’s team fees.

Establish a procedure for team coaches to file a grievance concerning the league rules, interpretation of the rules, etc.

Copies of all rules, bylaws, procedures, etc. will be provided in print to each team’s coach.

Establish the procedure for determining if a game will be postponed and how the team’s coach will be notified.

Determine of a tournament will be a part of the number of games the league will provide for the teams.

Establish the process that will be used to determine if a player or team can be removed from the league.

Determine if the team’s coaches will be able to collectively determine or change the league bylaws. It is possible that situations can develop that will determine a need for unique bylaws for a specific league. The bylaws and supplemental rules will be established before the league starts its games.

Determine if trophies will be awarded to teams and how the teams will be selected to receive the trophies. Trophies can be awarded according to the team ranking at the end of season’s game schedule and/or the team’s ranking after playing in a tournament at the end of the season?

Determine the tie breaker process if needed to determine which team is ranked ahead of the other team if the win/lost records of the teams are the same.

Determine how will the preseason promotional information about the league be distributed to newspapers, last year’s teams’ coaches, churches, potential players, etc.

Determine how will the weekly league’s team standings be posted and distributed?

A copy of the league contract or covenant is to be signed by each of the team’s members and must be on file with the league’s leaders before a person is officially on a team’s roster.

Establish the requirements for filing a team roster with the league by the team’s coach and the changing of the team’s roster to reflect adding and removing a team member. Sometimes a league bylaw requires a team’s roster to be frozen by a specific date with no changes allowed after the stated date. If a player on the team’s roster is challenge, what is the procedure the league officials will use to verify that the name on the roster is the name of the player that is being questioned.

An individual team may make its own bylaws that govern the team and its players. The team’s bylaws cannot conflict with the league’s bylaws.

Establish how a medical emergency will be handled during a league game.

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Preseason Activities for a Sport League

League leaders will meet to review the upcoming league and identify any adjustments that need to be made. They will review the league’s end of season evaluation documentation to identify any changes that need to be made to the league. The league’s bylaws and supplemental rules need to be review for needed changes.

Review the Activities and Decisions Related to Organizing a New Sport League segment to identify any needed changes.


Confirm -        Facilities are available for the league to use.

                        The game officials will be available.

                        League season dates - First game’s date.

                                                           Last game’s date.

Is there anything that can be changed that will make the league more competitive with existing leagues and will make the league more responsive to its teams?

Determine the league’s budget and the team entry fee.

Establish the team entry fee which will cover the expense of the facilities, game officials, any miscellaneous/incidental expenses of operating the league, trophies, provided equipment, office expenses, insurance premiums, etc.

What changes need to be made to any league procedures?

What is the date the promotion of the league begins?

Prepare news releases that promote the league.

Distribute the news releases.

Identify when the teams’ coaches meeting will be conducted.

Establish the schedule for the participating teams. Be sure to include one or two make-up dates in the schedule in case games have to be postponed. Weather can mess up a wonderfully planned schedule.

Establish before there is a need the possible responses that can be implemented in case games are postponed due to weather conditions and unanticipated facilities’ conditions. Having a tentative response preplanned will enable adjustments to be quickly implemented.

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Operating a Sport League after the Season Starts

If preseason planning was correctly done, the league should operate with few if any emergency meetings or phone calls. To keep the league operating smoothly, pay close attention to the operational activities during preseason and the first three weeks of the season.

The head of the league should be in contact with the other league’s leaders at least weekly to be updated about the status of the area of the league that each leader is responsible.

Weather conditions and unanticipated facilities’ conditions can cause the postponement of games. Have a tentative response preplanned so the plans can be quickly implemented.

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Evaluating a Sport League after the End of a Season

Conduct an end of season debriefing meeting to review the season of the league leaders. The current leagues’ team coaches may or may be included in the meeting. If they are not included, they need to be permitted to provide input to the meeting’s agenda. Document the topics discussed and decisions made.

If the game facilities are rented, be sure to receive commitment of the continued usage of the facilities for the next league’s season.

Contact the officials that conduct the games to determine if they will be available for the next season.

Document any adjustment that is determined to be needed so the adjustment can be review by the league leaders as they make plans for the next league’s season.

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Your Comment Is Wanted

If you have a question or comment about the content of this article written by Dale Lee, notify Dale. When you send an e-mail, be sure to include the article in question's title, your name, and your comments/questions. Dale is interested in hearing from you.

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 June 28, 2005