Welcome Visitor
Sat, Dec 03, 2016
118 members currently online.

Survey shows major drop-off in satisfaction with youth soccer program
WAYNESVILLE/ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Nov. 20, 2008) — Recreational youth sports programs in Waynesville, St. Robert and Fort Leonard Wood face a paradox. While some programs such as soccer are growing, other programs including basketball are struggling. Even for the soccer program, parent survey results show a marked drop-off in performance evaluations.

Community Recreation Board Chairman Charles Kristek said during Wednesday night’s board meeting that the drop-off in survey results isn’t entirely bad.

“There’s a lot of community support out there for this program,” Kristek said. “Looking at the results from this survey, they’re taking more ownership and having more expectations. I’m OK with having high expectations because it means they are taking ownership.”

For the fall 2007, spring 2008 and fall 2008 soccer seasons, members of the Community Recreation Board have administered a parent survey with fifteen questions about the program, the coaching and the participants with answers recorded on a three-point scale of “strongly agree,” “agree,” and “strongly disagree.” Options for “neutral” and simple rather than strong disagreement weren’t provided. The same survey was also given for the fall 2008 recreational football program.

Soccer survey results have significantly dropped during the last three seasons.

Three seasons ago, 31 parents of 81 children filled out the fall 2007 soccer survey and almost no “strongly disagree” responses were given. Only one parent “strongly disagreed” that teams appeared to be equal in terms of ability, with another single “strongly disagree” response given on coaches effectively communicating with players and parents, coaches promoting life lessons through sports such as responsibility, trust, sportsmanship, respect, and a sense of fairness, coaches treating all players with respect and coaches being a positive role model.

Also three seasons ago, not a single parent “strongly disagreed” that practice and game facilities were adequate, that questions and concerns were handled fairly and expediently by the program coordinator, that the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive, that they would recommend the program to friends, that the coach was on time and prepared for practices and games, that the coach provided a safe environment for players during direct supervision, that their children had a good experience, learned skills of the sport, felt part of a team, and wanted to play the sport again.

While some parents “agreed” rather than “strongly agreed” with those items, ratios in the fall 2007 survey were overwhelmingly supportive with only a scattering of less-than-ideal responses, and even those were usually by ratios of three-to-one or more. The highest of those were that eight parents “agreed” compared to 23 who “strongly agreed” that questions and concerns were handled by the program coordinator, seven parents “agreed” compared to 24 who “strongly agreed” that the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive, and seven agreed compared to 23 who strongly agreed that teams appeared to be equal in terms of ability, and five agreed compared to 26 who strongly agreed that practice and game facilities were adequate. No other question generated more than three “agree” responses, many had only a single less-than-ideal response.

In fact, every parent answering the fall 2007 survey “strongly agreed” that their children wanted to play the sport again.

Those responses dropped somewhat in the spring 2008 season with 35 parents filling out the survey.

Again, few “strongly disagree” responses were given. Only three of 35 parents “strongly disagreed” that practice and game facilities were adequate and only two parents strongly disagreed that teams appeared to be equal in terms of ability, that questions and concerns were handled fairly and expediently by the program coordinator and that the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive. Not a single parent “strongly disagreed” that they would recommend the program to friends, that the coach was on time and prepared, that the coach effectively communicated, that the coach promoted life lessons through sports, that the coach treated all players with respect, that the coach provided a safe environment for players, and that the coach was a positive role model. Again, as with the fall 2007 survey, not a single parent “strongly disagreed” that their children had a good experience, learned the skills of the sport, felt part of a team, and wanted to play the sport again.

While some parents “agreed” rather than “strongly agreed” with those items and ratios in the spring 2008 survey were still generally two-to-one or more, the percentages of totally satisfied parents were much lower.

The worst reports were for the facilities, where 20 parents “agreed” compared to 12 who “strongly agreed” that practice and game facilities were adequate, and for the program coordinator’s handling of questions, on which 19 agreed and 14 strongly agreed that questions were handled fairly and expediently.

Other less-than-ideal flags included 13 who agreed compared to 20 who strongly agreed that teams appeared to be of equal ability, 12 who agreed compared to 21 who strongly agreed that the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive, 10 who agreed compared to 25 who strongly agreed that they would recommend the program to friends and that the coach effectively communicated, eight who agreed compared to 27 who strongly agreed that the coaches promoted life lessons through sports and that their children felt part of a team, seven who agreed compared to 28 who strongly agreed that the coach was on time and prepared, and six who agreed compared to 29 who strongly agreed that coaches treated all players with respect, that the coach was a positive role model, that their children had a good experience, and that their children learned the skills of the sport.

Of the 35 parents responding in the spring 2008 soccer season, 32 strongly agreed with three agreeing that their children wanted to play the sport again.

More parents — a total of 96 — responded following the most recent soccer season in fall 2008. That’s partly because Fort Leonard Wood parents were actively encouraged rather than just invited to attend an end-of-year cookout at which the surveys were distributed.

The satisfaction numbers reported for fall 2008 soccer were dramatically worse.

Of those responding, 30 strongly disagreed that the teams appeared to be of equal ability, 26 strongly disagreed that coaches treated all players with respect, 22 strongly disagreed that the coaches were positive role models, 14 strongly disagreed that facilities were adequate, and 13 strongly disagreed that the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive.

While less-than-ideal responses in prior surveys were minimal and usually outweighed by two-to-one or three-to-one by ideal responses, ratios for many questions were completely reversed by fall 2008, and closely parallel the “strongly disagree responses.”

Of those parents responding, only 27 strongly agreed the program coordinator was easily accessible and responsive, compared to 56 who agreed and 13 who strongly disagreed; only 20 strongly agreed the coaches treated all players with respect and that their coaches were a positive role model, compared to 50 who agreed and 26 who strongly disagreed their coaches treated players with respect and 54 who agreed and 22 who strongly disagreed their coaches were positive role models; only 28 strongly agreed the teams were equal in ability, compared to 38 who agreed and 30 who strongly disagreed.

Other particularly high less-than-ideal responses included recommending the program to friends, for which only 46 strongly agreed, 44 agreed and six strongly disagreed; adequacy of the facilities, for which only 42 strongly agreed, 40 agreed and 14 strongly disagreed; and that the children had a good experience, for which 52 strongly agreed, 40 agreed and four strongly disagreed.

Overall, 56 parents strongly agreed their children wanted to play the sport again, 36 agreed, and four strongly disagreed.

Those survey results prompted significant discussion at the Wednesday board meeting, especially the written comments by parents explaining their objections.

“There was one official who cheered a team when one team scored against another team, that did happen,” Kristek said. “I don’t think that all of the parents thought the calling was inconsistent because I didn’t see that on a lot of surveys, or that rules seemed to change to fit Waynesville’s needs. That was only on a few of the surveys.”

Responding to a complaint that more timely notice should be given for cancellations, Recreation Coordinator Joanne Bishop said that complaint was unfortunate because only one game was cancelled. That happened because an out-of-town game in Richland was cancelled late because Richland officials believed a storm was coming, even though the storm blew over and the game could have been played if it hadn’t been cancelled, she said.

Recreational sports are intended to give all children an opportunity to play regardless of ability, but board member Rube Dowell agreed with one person commenting that a height and weight evaluation would be helpful in balancing the teams.

“If you have one kid who is 4-foot-11 and 170 pounds and another kid who is 4-foot-11 and 80 pounds, there’s a lot of difference between the two,” Dowell said.

Board members also agreed to explore proposed options that would improve uniforms and put benches on the playing field. Kristek said many of the complaints such as poor conduct by Laquey teams and smoking by parents and spectators can’t be enforced by the recreation board.

Kristek said that despite the increase in negative comments, many parents still value the program.

“There were a lot of comments about coaches being great,” Kristek said. “When you look at the overall totals, it shows we are still providing a valuable resource. You can’t make everybody happy and you’d kill yourself trying.”

Trying to please all parents won’t work, Dowell reminded board members.

“Even in a recreational noncompetitive environment, there are times that you have to show tough love to the kids, and some kids and some parents won’t like that,” Dowell said.


Local Opinion

Printer-friendly format




Do you know someone else who would like to see this?
Your Email:
Their Email:
Comment:
(Will be included with e-mail)
Secret Code

In the box below, enter the Secret Code exactly as it appears above *


 


Most-viewed
recent articles