Fitness facilities are all wondering: What is the Safe Sport Act, but more importantly, how does it apply to my gym? In 2017 the Safe Sport Act was created in large part as a response to the abuse and molestation of youth in USA Gymnastics. It intends to develop regulations and procedures to keep children safe from predators.
Procedures should be followed by gyms regarding abuse and molestation. But the question is, is a gym required to maintain the standards we will list below? The easiest way to understand is by reading the definition of a “covered individual” from the Act. It’s some serious legalese, but I’ve pasted it below.
“Any adult who is authorized by an amateur youth sports organization that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competitions to interact with a minor or amateur athlete at an amateur sport organization facility or at an event (including travel, lodging, practice, competition, and health or medical treatment) sanctioned by an amateur sports organization.”
The key here in the language is the call out regarding interstate activities. That eliminates most of the requirements for gyms who coach a one-hour youth training class at a fitness facility. Here is a snapshot of what the new requirements are;
1. Mandatory prevention training
“must offer and provide consistent training to all adult members who are in regular contact with amateur athletes who are minors, and subject to parental consent, to members who are minors regarding prevention and reporting of child abuse.”
2. Mandatory prevention policies
“establish reasonable procedures to limit one-to-one interactions between an adult and an amateur athlete who is a minor…without being in an observable and interruptible distance from another adult.”
3. Mandatory reporting of any abuse and molestation complaints
“Participating adults are required to report suspicions of child abuse including sex abuse, as soon as possible (within a 24-hour period) to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, as determined by state or federal law.”
4. Background checks
An important element of any prevention policy to understand the background of each employee working at the gym.
While all of these requirements are important aspects of running a business in which your staff is working with youth, it is not required for 99% of fitness facilities unless they are traveling across state lines. That said, Nexo does have you covered to take the extra steps toward compliance. Our background check service is located here and folks can email us for our full abuse and molestation procedures, which we will always provide for free ([email protected]).
Unfortunately, it seems our insurance competitors have tried to monetize a new law that has little application to small fitness facilities. This approach is creating confusion about what is required by a gym. Each gym is different and should consult their attorney on the specifics or us not blindly pay for extra services that are being sold to comply with the Act. In addition, many insurance companies are starting to require background checks, or they will deny a claim. At Nexo, our policies do not have this requirement and provide coverage even if you forget to comply with the Act. If the competition is requiring background checks, they are limiting your coverage, and that should be worrisome to the fitness community. It also illuminates that competitors don’t truly understand the makeup of the fitness facility community or how laws apply to it.