As part of USA Hockey’s emphasis on participant safety, communications involving our minor participants should be appropriate, productive, and transparent. Effective communication concerning travel, practice or game schedules, and administrative issues among coaches, administrators, players and their families is critical. However, the use of mobile devices, web-based applications, social media, and other forms of electronic communications increases the possibility for improprieties and misunderstandings and also provides potential offenders with unsupervised and potentially inappropriate access to participants. The improper use of mobile and electronic communications can result in misconduct. Adherence to the Social Media, Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy helps reduce these risks.
All electronic communication between coach and player must be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities. Coaches, players and all team personnel must follow common sense guidelines regarding the volume and time of day of any allowed electronic communication. All content between coaches and players should be readily available to share with the public or families of the player or coach. If the player is under the age of 18, any email, text, social media, or similar communication must also copy or include the player’s parents.
Social media makes it easy to share ideas and experiences. USA Hockey recognizes, however, that social media, mobile and other electronic communications can be especially concerning where minor participants are involved. Coaches are prohibited from having players joined to their personal Facebook page or any other similar social media application. To facilitate communication, an official organization or team page may be set up and players and parents may join (i.e., “friend”) the official organization or team page and coaches can communicate to players though the site. All electronic communication of any kind between coach and player, including use of social media, must be non-personal in nature and be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities or for team oriented motivational purposes.
Email, Text Messaging and Similar Electronic Communications
Coaches, team managers and players may use email and text messaging to communicate. All email and text message content between coaches/team managers and players must be non-personal in nature and be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities. Emails and text messages from a coach to any minor participant must include a copy to parents. Where possible, a coach should be provided and use the organization web site email center (the coach’s return email address will contain “@organization.com”) for all communications with the team and players.
Request To Discontinue All Electronic Communications or Imagery with Athlete
Following receipt of a written request by the parents of a minor player that their child not be contacted by any form of electronic communication by coaches or other adults, the local program, team, coaches and administrators shall immediately comply with such request without any repercussions for such request.
Abuse and Misconduct
Social media and other means of electronic communication can be used to commit abuse and misconduct (e.g., emotional, sexual, bullying, harassment, and hazing). Such communications by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant of a USA Hockey Member Program will not be tolerated and are considered violations of USA Hockey’s SafeSport Program.
Infractions of USA Hockey’s Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy should be reported to the appropriate person as described in Section IV of this Handbook concerning reporting.
A USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who violates this Social Media, Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.