The saying, “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen,” certainly holds true in the sports club world as documents such as contracts and liability waivers play a big role in allowing athletes to play for your organization. Many clubs use recycled documents that are outdated and, essentially, unenforceable, which can result in a huge money loss or worse: the loss of the organization. Having updated, effective, and comprehensive documentation is critical to running a successful club. Below are some ideas on how to put good documentation into practice.

1. Customize contracts and waivers specifically to your club.

Many clubs use generic contracts and waivers found online or that are used by other clubs. These forms often do not comprehensively cover the club and may not even match up with the same practice or game conditions as stated. Some may not even be for the correct sport. To avoid this, tailor generic forms to align with your club values and practices. Also, consult with a local attorney as you prepare and update your forms so you are covering all of your bases.

2. Be as detailed as necessary on liability waivers.

Liability waivers need to strike a balance between being detailed and extensive but not so specific that they exclude important circumstances. You should also consider any specific state laws that could affect how your waivers can be enforced. This can include language such as:
“I assume all legal and financial responsibilities for _____ participation in these activities.”
“I acknowledge that these activities involve risks and dangers of serious injuries.”
“I hereby release and discharge not to sue.”

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, club directors need to make sure to address coronavirus in their waivers. To view a sample waiver click HERE. Click HERE for another sample waiver.

3. Include payment contracts for parents.

Don’t forget to add a contract for parents to emphasize the fact that they MUST pay their dues by specified dates if they want their child to continue playing for the organization. Many clubs get lazy and allow parents to miss or get behind on payments. By including a payment contract, parents will have a harder time taking advantage of an unorganized system. Club directors should include a clause that pertains to the coronavirus should another outbreak or pandemic occur. It can no longer be presumed that this scenario would never happen.

4. Renew contracts and waivers each season.

It’s better to be thorough than to be vulnerable. It may feel redundant or overly extensive to require families to resign forms each season, but it’s necessary in order for the documents to remain valid. Doing so will also allow you to update any terms that have changed such as facility policies and payment deadlines.

Don’t succumb to the documentation laziness that’s all-too familiar in the sports club world. Simply choosing the same outdated and ineffective documents you’ve always used–or that are used by others in your field–can come back to bite you. Following the above steps will enable your club to continue thriving years into the future.

For related reading for Club Directors click HERE. To view more resources on budgeting, cash flow and business planning visit the JVA Members Education library. A member login is required to view the content.

About the Author

This article is a collaboration between Briana Schunzel, JVA Director of Marketing and Education, and Darby, previously a Content Marketing Associate for PaidUp in Austin, TX, previously a payments company supporting youth sports organizations.