The Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches updated a waiver form for its annual senior all-star games after an online backlash over language that required athletes to waive all rights and claims in potential cases of sexual assault or abuse.
“It was very poorly worded,” AABC president David Porter said. “We hadn’t looked at it for a few years and it was brought to our attention that it sounded really bad.”
He said the organization had used the same form for many years and didn’t notice the issue until a parent pointed it out. He said the group’s board met over the weekend and also met with an attorney to make sure they had the wording right on a new form. By that time there was a growing outcry on social media.
Porter said that in the more than a decade since the all-star series has been held, they haven’t had any incidents of any kind.
He said insurance requirements for holding the games involve liability coverage for not only injuries, but for sexual assault or abuse. That, he said, was why the language was included in the waiver.
“Ultimately, perception is reality,” he said. “We understand why people reacted and we apologize.”
The original waiver read: “I hereby waive and release any and all rights and claims for damage I might have against AABC, its employees and agents for any and all injuries suffered by my child while participation in this activity. This also includes any sexual misconduct/abuse as defined below.”
The updated waiver replaced the portion on sexual misconduct with a new section. The new version, posted to the group’s Facebook page reads: “Additionally, the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches takes sexual misconduct and abuse very seriously. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participate/helpers. We believe AABC is a sub classification of the education profession, and as such follow professional standards and practices including mandatory reporting.
Sexual misconduct, as defined below, will not be tolerated, encouraged, or instigated by the staff or faculty of AABC. Any known, rumored, reported, or witnessed incidents of sexual misconduct will be investigated by the Directors and reported to proper legal authorities. Parents or legal guardians will also be immediately notified.”
Porter said the group’s board is made up mostly of retired educators and coaches. Only Wasilla girls coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax is a current coach he said.
The AABC Senior All-Star Games went to four games in 2015, with 1A/2A games for boys and girls and 3A/4A games boys and girls. The game wasn’t played the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Porter said the event is a showcase for colleges with 15 coaches scheduled to be in attendance this year. With scouting more difficult with the geographic isolation of Alaska, he said getting college coaches to the game each year is a significant feat.
“Our goal is to put on an outstanding all-star game for these kids,” he said. “This really is all about the kids and I hate the fact we’ve taken away from that fact. It should be about kids and celebrating their success.”
The series is being played Saturday at Grace Christian School with 1A/2A girls at 2 p.m., 1A/2A boys at 3:45 p.m., 3A/4A girls at 6 p.m. and 3A/4A boys at 7:45 p.m.