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As youth lacrosse season takes hold across most of the nation, many teams may choose to participate in scrimmages against other opponents prior to the start of the regular season. Some leagues require that officials be assigned to these scrimmages, while other leagues may have no written policy.
Accordingly, we recently received a question from a member coach who was getting mixed messages from his league. He asked, “Do we need to have officials assigned to scrimmages?” More specifically, he was also asking if a scrimmage contest with no officials would invalidate US Lacrosse’s liability insurance coverage.
I’m sharing my response to him, below, in hopes that it may provide some guidance to other coaches who have the similar questions:
I can understand why your league would require officials at scrimmages, because they make the playing environment safer and the player experience better. Having officials at a game allows coaches to coach and not have to be concerned about controlling the game. If I were running a league, I would require the same thing, as it is better for the players, which is why we do all of this anyway.
If you have liability insurance because you meet all of the requirements, then it would still be in force if a coach were officiating or controlling a scrimmage. A scrimmage is a practice activity and, therefore, is covered. This is similar to the fact that your car insurance is still in force when you have an accident while speeding; it is not the preferred practice, but it is not specifically excluded from coverage.
The reason to have well officiated scrimmages or games, however, should not be about the liability insurance, though it can be used as an excuse. Rather, it should be about the players having the best and safest playing experience. These are your kids.
While we might sometimes disagree with calls, I’m sure we can all agree that coaches can help the players best by coaching them during a scrimmage, while allowing the officials to worry about on-field safety and fair play.
Does your league require officials at scrimmages? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Bruce Griffin is the director of health and sport safety at US Lacrosse.
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