“Soccer Mom” has a new meaning in South Florida (along with many other places). Instead of ferrying children back and forth to practice and cheering on the sidelines at games, many sports parents have taken an active role on their child’s sports teams – volunteering, chauferring teams around, organizing parent activities, and helping coach. And now, along with the requisite station wagon, van or SUV keys and water bottles, team parents are now sporting ID badges when at practices and games.
Many cities in South Florida have instituted an ID badge program for sports parents to appease increasing worries about kidnapping and increase security at the games that dot fields and parks all over South Florida every weekend. Under the new programs, any adult that comes into contact with the children during sports activities – practices, games, tournaments, team events – must wear an ID badge that certifies that the adult has cleared a criminal background check.
Reactions to the program have been positive thus far, and may increase the participation rates for parents and other adults. The presence of a badge on a lanyard reinforces that the adult is a safe figure and an authority for the team – making it easy to identify just who is allowed to be at the practice or game and who is not. The constant presence of badges has also helped to increase communication and cooperation between adults, coaches, and children, helping kids remember adult names and fostering valuable relationships that can help secure team players and facilitate growth.
As the programs become more popular, more and more cities across South Florida and the rest of the United States are expected to join in on this program. Since its inception in 2005, more than 600 adults have joined in on the ID badge program.