Biz Tips

A Scary Reality: We Are Creep Magnets - by Jeff Metzger

In the late 1970’s, as a fledgling GymClub owner, I remember attending a session at a business conference and listening to an attorney teach about ‘duty to inform’ He suggested to the room that we inform parents of perspective participants that their child(ren) could be injured doing gymnastics. But he didn’t stop there; I remember my fear when he went on to explain that an effective waiver must include graphic language such as, ‘your child could become paralyzed, brain dead or even die’.

Today I laugh at my fear. Over the decades, many times in my life I have referenced an axiom I first heard from a financial advisor, the late Howard Ruff: “if you can’t fix it, feature it." Our industry cannot fix the fact that height, motion and inversion carries serious risk no matter how dedicated to safety we may be. Similarly, our industry cannot fix that fact that pedophiles exist in society and that, according to statistics, pedophiles may represent ~5% of the population*. And we certainly cannot fix the fact that pedophiles tend to gravitate toward professions and activities that afford them access to children. In other words, we GymClub Owners must come to grips with the fact that our respective businesses attract pedophiles—we are creep magnets!

(Last week I was challenged by a reader for my views. This person wrote to me, ”your emails are disgusting and ill-informed. When you tell people and business owners about all the horrors in the industry, and insinuate that we are not actively protecting our clients, that is downright offensive...remove me from your email list.”)

No insinuation was intended and certainly, logically, some GymClubs are doing a great job protecting their Clients while others have a long way to go. When teaching/training anything, my primary goal is effectiveness and my method is to identify the hard-hitting Main Points of an issue, drive those Main Points home and allow the details to be filled in later. No matter the subject, the details of an issue have little to no relevance until the issue’s Main Points are fully visceralized, taken to ‘heart’ and fully ‘bought into’. And certainly a Main Point of the subject at hand is that our respective businesses attract people with pedophiliac tendencies both, to our facilities and to our online presence.

By way of example:

I was working at my desk when an employee excitedly knocked on my office door to tell me ‘a guy has been hanging around’ in the viewing area. As I headed that direction, another employee rushed to tell me that the ‘guy’ was running out the front door. (I later learned that a third employee had taken it upon herself to approach the guy to ask him the purpose of his visit and her simple question was enough to flush him out.) I sprinted out the front door and arrived at his car as it was backing out of a parking spot. I stepped to block his forward path and signaled him to stop. He cut the wheel and sped forward as his front tire grazed the tip of my shoe. It was warm weather and his window was down and as he sped away he yelled at me (literally) “you’re a creep.” (I imagine a psychologist would have a field day with that response.) I was able to capture his license number and reported it to our local police. An officer arrived and he told me that “yes, this guy has a record.” Unfortunately (frustratingly) the law prevented him from giving me more details. Sadly, I can (but won’t) recite other stories about creeps who tried to ‘hang out’ at Kids First. Suffice it to say, Kids First Sports Center spends a lot of energy teaching its employees how to approach a visitor who may appear ‘unattached to a child.” For a FREE pdf of this training document please email info@metzgerbootcamp.com and enter “Unattached Adult pdf” in the subject line.

To complete the picture, let me share the four Main Points we teach employees on the subject of child safety:
  • Kids First is a Creep Magnet — A scary notion but true.
  • Everything in the Light of Day — Honor the Two Adult Rule and NEVER be alone with a child, making certain at least one other trusted adult is present.
  • YOU are a Mandatory Reporter — As a Kids First Sports Center employee, as of March, 2018 your are a criminal if you have reasonable suspicions of child abuse and you fail to report it.**
  • ACT on suspicious persons IMMEDIATELY. Visualize the pain and shame you would carry were a child to suffer because you failed act on a suspicious person. Rehearse your actions in advance.
Clearly there are details left unsaid, however if every Kids First Employee ‘gets’ and adheres to these four simple points then the likelihood of a creep gaining access to a child at Kids First is pretty small.

It’s been a sad few months for our industry. Hopefully by keeping this tough subject front and center and by all of us sharing our methods and ideas openly with one another we can move toward safety for every child.

Make it a great Spring,
Jeff Metzger

* The ~5% incidence of pedophilia in society is an estimate based only on pedophiles who were caught. Logic tells me that number could be significantly higher.

** The recently passed Senate bill 534 now makes USA Gymnastics and other sports governing bodies Mandatory Reporters. By extension, all Member Clubs and its employees and volunteers are also Mandatory Reporters.

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Please join us at the May 17-21 Small Business BOOT CAMP where you hear more about how identifying Main Points can greatly simplify your business. For example, learn how 7 Main Points and one simple 10 minute exercise can make one a Master at hiring right. BOOT CAMP Tuition is ALL-INCLUSIVE and I personally guaranteed BOOT CAMP to be the best business education of your career. Seats are limited. For more information call Lyndsey 513-489-7575 or visit MetzgerBootCamp.com