Let’s play a game of word association. What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:
League President / _______
I would bet we get a wide variety of responses to that one. The league president role is such a unique one, and one that undoubtedly triggers a word association response earned by the actions of your favorite leader. Let’s dive into a discussion of the role that I consider very, very important.
Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a tour around Southern California for the Regional Pony League President’s meetings. Listening to these very special Regional Directors pass along knowledge, experience, and all relevant updates to their local league’s leaders has been pretty eye-opening. Most importantly (to me), I’ve been able to present Dugout Captain in hopes that we can alleviate some headache by helping to train and support their coaches. As I said last night, “One less hat for you to wear.”
And I think that’s an important point to expand upon. These league presidents do waaaaay more than I had ever realized. Here they are, on a midweek night, meeting for 2-3 hours with their regional leadership. They meet monthly with their own league boards. They coordinate tasks and delegate responsibility, but ultimately they are the catch-all. When no one is willing or able to do ___, the league president gets it done. One local league president (you know who you are :), literally lived in the snackbar 6 days a week, for yeeeeeaaaars. Hustling and grinding, managing fields, handling disputes, and dishing out hot dogs… all in a long, day’s work. God bless these people!
I’ve been putting a lot of miles in my trusty truck, and I’ve had lots of time to think. One thing that has been sinking in: I believe the position of league president is the most important role in youth baseball.
5 THINGS A LEAGUE PRESIDENT MUST DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL
- Be Authentic – You can’t fake it. Have to be transparent. It’s 2017, if you have a personal agenda or selfish reasons for assuming the position… it’s going to come out. There’s just too many people involved with a sports league to think that you are going to be able to guarantee your own kid a spot on the all-star team if he/she doesn’t deserve it.
- Delegate – I’ve seen too league presidents overwhelmed by league responsibility. A league president must do what I don’t do well – fill the role of president and MANAGE others. Put good people into other board positions, and allow them to handle their business. Do not meddle, do not micro-manage, do not get stuck doing everything. Instead, establish roles and responsibilities, fill those positions with the most ethical and integrity-filled individuals as possible, and serve the role of President.
- Perspective – Don’t coach a team. Many leagues don’t allow board members to coach teams. I don’t know how easy this is to accomplish – find enough volunteers willing to serve on the board without leading a team. However, I do think this is an important rule for the league president role. He/she must be emotionally removed from the on-field competition. Must be able to see disputes and inevitable conflicts for what they are: micro-issues that are typically settled with several deep breaths and a heavy dose of common sense. It’s funny, I hear SO much drama from all the local leagues. Being involved with all of them, and yet tied to none of them, I become a bit of a sounding board for certain individuals dealing with league issues. Typically, our discussions are short and simple. Once the situation is discussed away from the other board members, and outside of the tension-filled meeting room, it is infinitely easier to see reality.
- “Put ‘It’ In The By-Laws” – I’ve heard this line at each of the most recent president’s meetings. From the perspective of litigation, lawsuits, and parent-complaints, make sure your league’s by-laws include protocol for how disputes will be handled. “In the case of _(player issue)_, the league will….” In the case of _(parent issue)_, the league will…” From the limited understanding I’ve collected, establishing and publishing this type of protocol goes a long way in court. And while I’m likely doing a disservice to the specifics and importance of this area, just take this as a suggestion to find someone well-versed in law to advise you on what to do.
- Focus on the Kids – I use my favorite parent-line often, for myself and for others. Here it is, “What’s the right thing to do?” Typically, there is an easy answer to this question, when the group focuses on the kids. Here’s a challenge for the next time there’s a dispute:
- Go silent – The room must be quiet and all in attendance take 5 slow, deep breaths.
- Put up the league motto – Read aloud, present on a projector, pull up on your computer screen… the league’s purpose. WHY is it that this league exists?
- Read aloud the dispute – No emotion. No bias. Just simply present the facts.
- Ask the question: “What’s the right thing for us to do?”
I think it would be awesome to continue these suggestions. A large percentage of the DC coaching community also participates on a board. What are the most important suggestions you have learned in service to the local league? How can we learn and grow from one another? Let’s do this!!! And if there’s a better way to share info, let me know. Let’s get some discussion going.