Hopefully your soccer league does background checks on all coaches, manages, and officers. If they do and you coach/manage, you’re likely familiar with the questionnaire you have to fill out and know that a background check is run on you to ensure you haven’t been convicted of a variety of assaults, sexual crimes, repeated DUI’s, and others. You are, after all, being entrusted with the welfare of a group of your area’s children to teach them soccer. It’s common sense to screen all would be volunteers who might be alone with the kids for past convictions, etc.

But what amount of privacy would you be willing to give up in order to continue coaching?

Consider this story about the FBI working to develop a huge database of people’s biometric information, fed not just from information gathered during criminal processing, but possibly from people simply being processed for background checks:

You don’t have to be a criminal or a terrorist to be checked against the database. More than 55 percent of the checks the FBI runs involve criminal background checks for people applying for sensitive jobs in government or jobs working with vulnerable people such as children and the elderly, according to the FBI.

The FBI says it hasn’t been saving the fingerprints for those checks, but that may change. The FBI plans a so-called “rap-back” service in which an employer could ask the FBI to keep the prints for an employee on file and let the employer know if the person ever has a brush with the law. The FBI says it will first have to clear hurdles with state privacy laws, and people would have to sign waivers allowing their information to be kept.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that it’s no big deal because all your background check involved was some questions and your full name, address, and driver’s license number. Sure – right now. But consider that today, many states require any day care provider to be fingerprinted at the local police department as part of their background check. Even substitutes. Is it too far fetched to think that someday we’ll expect all soccer coaches to be fingerprinted as well? We’re not talking about ink thumbprints on paper – but a simple USB device on a laptop that each coach has to use to scan their fingerprints as part of their league processing, which are then uploaded with their risk management information (i.e. the background check). Almost trivial to do today with current technology and it’ll only get cheaper and easier.

Now there is always the phrase “Why worry if you have nothing to hide?”, but that’s easy to say in the abstract. If the powers that be enacted a program where all potential soccer coaches had to have hand print scans and iris scans done as part of their background check processing AND this information was stored in a central FBI database – would you still coach? Would it bother you?

I’m not trying to go all tin foil hat here. I’m saying something like this COULD happen, not that it WILL happen. But technology is lowering the barriers to some very intrusive processes if people want to enact them in the name of better security/safety. Are we as a society ready to have something as simple as coaching soccer result in us having a government file opened with our biometric information in it? Will it make enough difference in catching the few criminals out there that our current processes don’t catch? Will the sacrificed privacy be far outweighed by preventing even one slipping through?

All tough questions…