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Amateur Athletic Union, Inc. (AAU): An Interview with Dr. Roger Goudy, President & CEO

17 Feb, 2015

By: Sports Destination Management Team

The Amateur Athletic Union, Inc. (AAU): is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting athletics and fitness programs. AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic games. After the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the AAU has focused its efforts into providing sports programs for all participants of all ages beginning at the grass roots level. The philosophy of "Sports for All, Forever," is shared by over 670,000 participants and over 100,000 volunteers. The AAU lists competitions in 26 different sports, several of which have multiple classifications (these include volleyball, divided into beach and indoor; and hockey, which is broken down into field, ice and inline). AAU offers its members a number of benefits including the ability to license events.

AAU is one of the largest volunteer multi-sport organizations in the country. It divides the United States according to Districts. There are 55 Districts, each with a regional office. In some cases, multiple District offices exist within states.

Sports Destination Management: AAU oversees a number of sports. What would you identify as some of the growth areas?

Dr. Roger Goudy: Volleyball is one. We host the AAU Volleyball Nationals and for the last three years, that event has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest volleyball tournament. Each year, it has broken its own attendance record. Last year, in Orlando, we had over 2,100 teams from 17 different counties playing over an eight-day period.

SDM: A lot of attention currently is being paid to beach volleyball as well.

Goudy: Beach volleyball is growing like crazy. We have multiple events all over the country. In addition, our football and inline hockey programs are growing. Lacrosse is ready to explode. There are a lot of growth sports out there.

SDM: AAU offers an online training course from the CDC regarding concussion awareness. Is this a new initiative?

Goudy: It is something we have offered for a while now but we are in the process of revising it. We actually met recently about that. It is not enough to offer training programs; you want them to be as current and state-of-the-art as you can make them. We want to make sure we’re on the cutting edge for information like that; you can’t just put them in a book and let them collect dust.

SDM: AAU also provides access to an insurance program.

Goudy: That’s something else that is extremely valuable. We want to make sure people can take advantage of the best insurance available.

SDM: The organization has a Parents’ Page. Does AAU have any policies regarding parent involvement?

Goudy: We don’t have policies. Some parents might be overinvolved but then again, we are fortunate they are involved with their children. We just have to try to encourage the involvement to be positive and to be concerned about the growth of their child, not to be so competitive. Most parents have very good intentions; there are a few that just get too involved in the competition.

SDM: AAU is very involved with coach education and training as well, through its Positive Coaching Alliance.

Goudy: We have that, and we also have initiated background screening on our adult members. We recognize a good coach can have a big impact on a child’s life. I’ve seen kids who weren’t motivated in school, and all it takes is one good coach who takes them aside and puts an arm around them and says, “You can turn this around.” The power of sports is amazing. I’ve been a school superintendent so I know there are plenty of kids out there for whom sports is the only hook that brings them to school each day. AAU is trying to get into a mode where we’re not just event operators; we’re providers of education initiatives. We’re trying to become more of an organization that helps the whole child. 

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