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Preventing sport rage: Prepare your club

To help prevent and deal with sport rage, clubs need to do some pre-season ground work – putting in place some critical policies, processes and personnel.

Here are six important things clubs must do:

1. Develop codes of conduct

Your club needs codes of conduct for administrators, coaches, officials, players and parents. They outline the agreed standard of behaviour for everyone.

Check with your national and/or state sporting body first. If they don't have codes for you to adopt, establish your own using our samples.

Developing your codes of conduct is a great first step - as long as they don’t remain on your club shelf gathering dust. Here are some ideas for raising awareness about your codes of conduct:

  • Attach the relevant code of conduct to membership/registration forms and require members to sign the code as part of the registration process
  • Include the codes of conduct on your club website
  • Write an article in your newsletter about appropriate behaviour, focusing attention on the codes of conduct
  • Attach the codes of conduct to your club’s notice board.

2. Establish disciplinary procedures

Your club constitution or by-laws must contain a procedure for the discipline of members who breach codes of conduct. Once your club has adopted rules about disciplinary procedures then it is entitled to apply and enforce these rules.

Disciplinary action may involve a simple warning, but it could also include suspension, expulsion or require the person to participate in a counselling session.

If your club does not have disciplinary procedures contained in its rules, it's advisable you seek legal advice as well as speak to your state sporting organisation.

3. Establish an incident process

With your codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures in place, your club should map out a clear process for dealing with sport rage incidents. Establish what the response is – step by step – and who is responsible for each step. See our suggested approach.  

4. Bind non-members

When signing on as members, people must agree to abide and be bound by your club’s rules.

However, some people involved in your club activities are not club members and therefore not legally bound by your club’s rules. This might include spectators, officials or parents of visiting teams.

In this case it is important that your club secures the right to enforce its rules over such people by some other means. These can include:

  • Applying 'conditions of entry' which specifically provide that entrants to grounds agree to be bound by the rules and policies of your club. This should be discussed with the facility owner e.g. the local council. View a sample conditions of entry.
  • Requiring parents to agree to be bound by the club's rules. This could be achieved by asking them to sign registration forms at the start of the season
  • Implementing league or association rules which apply equally to home and visiting team players, officials and representatives.

5. Appoint ground officials

Your club should appoint a ground official for every game day to prevent and deal with sport rage incidents by other officials, players, coaches and spectators. The title of the ground official will vary depending on the sport. For example in triathlon the ground official could be referred to as the ‘race referee’, or 'ground marshal' in rugby union.

Club committees need to prepare ground officials by:

Providing information packs

Clubs should provide ground officials with an information pack containing:

  • A job description. View a sample job description
  • Club codes of conduct
  • Club disciplinary procedures and penalties
  • Club incident process
  • Relevant information on enforcing rules on non-members.

Provide distinctive clothing

Ensure your ground officials stand out on game day by providing them with something distinctive to wear.

Organise training

Ground officials need the skills and confidence to deal with difficult situations. Have your ground official:

Club committees should put in place an incident reporting system for ground officials to use. View a sample incident report

6. Train officials and other club members

Ensuring people in your club have the skills to deal with sport rage and a good understanding of fair play is essential. Visit Play by the Rules - free online training on fair play and respect in sport which is suitable for officials, coaches, players and parents. Consider making it part of your accreditation processes.