Benchwarmers wasn't that far off...
"I am 12" Scribbled in green crayon, is a quintessential scene of the iconic movie of the 2000's Benchwarmers. For those unfamiliar with this classic piece of Sports cinema, an opposing team brings in a blatantly old ringer to win a game who not so subtly passes the Blue a bribe and a fake "birth certificate".
While I hope this story is an over-exaggeration, with the increasing importance placed on winning and competition, it's not uncommon to hear of people cheating to gain an advantage by lying about an athlete's age to play in youth sports events. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of verifying athletes' ages and the repercussions of failing to do so during the registration process, especially regarding contact sports like football.
Why Is It Important to Verify Athletes' Ages?
There are several reasons why it's essential to verify athletes' ages before participating in youth sports events, including football registration and league registration.
Firstly, children of different ages have different physical and cognitive abilities. Therefore, if an athlete who is much older than their competitors is allowed to play, they may have an unfair advantage over the other players. This undermines the integrity of the sport and event host and can also be dangerous for the other players.
Secondly, league and event registration are often limited to certain age groups to ensure fair competition. Allowing athletes to play in a younger age group can disrupt the league's balance and put younger players at a disadvantage at best or at worst physical danger. This can also cause frustration among parents who have registered their children in the correct age group.
Lastly, allowing athletes to play in youth sports events when they are not of the appropriate age can create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. Parents and coaches may begin to question the legitimacy of the competition, which can ultimately damage the reputation of the sport as a whole, as well as the league or events standing in the community and business.
Don't believe me that this happens?
I bet they didn't do this with a green crayon and a 5 dollar bill, but there are several stories every year about people cheating to play down.
One such case involved Bishop Sycamore, an Ohio-based high school football team that gained national attention in 2021 when it was revealed that many of their players were not actually high school students and were much older than their opponents. This scandal not only exposed the dangers of age fraud in youth sports but also highlighted the importance of verifying the ages of athletes before they participate in football registration and league registration.
Another well-known case involved a Nigerian soccer player, Sani Emmanuel, who played for Nigeria in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Emmanuel was later found to be two years older than the maximum age allowed for the tournament and was disqualified from further play.
How to Verify Athletes' Ages
One effective way to verify athletes' ages is through the use of automated age verification systems, such as Sports Thread Play Safe. This technology compares an athlete's government-issued ID with other data sources to verify their age and identity. It's a quick and secure process that eliminates the need for manual age verification, which can be prone to errors and time-consuming. Using Sports Thread Play Safe can help prevent cheating and age fraud in youth sports events, ensuring that athletes are playing in their appropriate age groups and maintaining the sport's and event's integrity.
In addition, using automated age verification systems like Sports Thread Play Safe can build trust among parents and coaches, who can be confident that their children are playing in a safe and fair environment. It can also streamline the football registration process, making it easier for organizers to verify the ages of athletes and ensure they are playing in the correct age groups.
In conclusion, verifying athletes' ages before they participate in youth sports events, is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the sport and ensuring the safety and well-being of all players. Not only can cheating harm the other players and the sport as a whole, but it can also cause disappointment and mistrust among fans and competitors. By taking the necessary steps to verify the ages of athletes, we can create a safer, fairer, and more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Written by Keenan Leary