As any league administrator knows, it can be next to impossible to keep goals properly anchored. They get moved around, anchors get lost, sand bags rip, etc. Yet much of the problem is due to a lack of awareness, followup, and honestly a lack of urgency. Most coaches, when we tell them they need to check the goals at every practice, are mentally rolling their eyes. I suspect when I’ve talked about it with our league officers, some are thinking there are so many other important things to worry about, which I can understand. It all revolves around them thinking the risk of an accident is remote (it’s not) and thinking it’s someone else problem (it’s not).
Well, with the rash of accidents in Arizona this year, a local Arizona TV station decided to drive around and see how many soccer goals were still unanchored at schools, parks, and soccer complexes. What they found wasn’t encouraging:
A federal government standard requires soccer goals be secured or anchored to the ground, using something like a metal hook or bolt and chain. That’s not what we found. The ABC15 Investigators tested more than 100 schools and parks across the Valley. We found 54 unanchored, unsafe goals. That’s one out of five we tested.
This is not a surprise. Honestly, I expected there to be more unanchored than 1 in 5. Maybe that’s a sign of slow progress.
Here’s hoping that some unwelcome media attention (or even the risk of it) will get more leagues and schools to finally anchor their goals and implement policies to ensure they remain anchored. Our league is considering adding a requirement to check goals before every activity into our coaching code of conduct. I expect this season when I note that media outlets are starting to check, that it may provide an additional sense or urgency to the issue. The same type of thing happened here with risk management. As leagues were slowly starting to take risk management seriously, a local league was found by a TV station to have a coach or two with criminal backgrounds because they weren’t doing regular checks. It was a big deal and risk management suddenly took on a greater sense of urgency.
We’re still primarily using the anchors I wrote about a year ago in our league, though we expect to make a few improvements in the next round we put onto our goals. I’ll be sure to post updates.