Baloo's Bugle

July 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 14, Issue 12
August 2008 Theme

Webelos: Forester & Naturalist
Tiger Cub


Why Isn't There a Sports Belt Loop For …

From Mike Walton of the USSSP
Board of Directors and our website,

Recently, I received the following question and asked Mike for his help in answering, “Can Lacrosse be added as a Sports Belt loop/pin category? Both of my sons have been playing lacrosse for 1-3 seasons per year for many years." 

Mike went to our site and used it as the basis for his letter.  Here is what Mike had to say -

Ice Hockey, Roller Hockey and Lacrosse all require special equipment and training, Darby.  While they are popular sports (especially up in the north-central part of the USA, where I normally live (Minnesota) ), and with roller hockey picking up the pace in other parts of the country, the BSA simply don't have the skill set nor the experience to safely teach and coach Cub Scouts in those sports.

Here's some information we post on our advancement webpage; please do write to the Cub Scout Program Division and express your interest in seeing that Lacrosse gets added to the variety of sports offered to Cub Scouts and WEBELOS Cub Scouts through this optional national program emphasis.  While the posting addresses tackle football and karate, the information provided would be helpful when you craft the justification for a new belt loop/pin in those sport areas.  I've starred the most important part of the reason why your sport is not included as a Cub Scout belt loop sport:


We are frequently asked questions like "Why isn't there a belt loop for Karate or other martial arts?", or "Why can't my son get credit for his participation in Pop Warner football?"

To the best of our knowledge, BSA will not add any of the martial arts to the Cub Scout Sports program. They did add FLAG Football to the program in 2002; but that addition did not include Tackle Football programs like Pop Warner League play.

Back in 1974, the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board decided on a listing of team and individual sports which it felt was not consistent with the ideals and promotion of sportsmanship that Scouting is promoting. They didn't say that "these sports are bad" or "Scouts should never participate in these sports" but rather "these sports have the potential for extreme harm while playing the sport and therefore we will prohibit them from being played as part of a BSA program or program option." The list has been adjusted through the years, but has remained basically intact.

**Note that ANY SPORT can be dangerous if played against the official rules, if the participants are not dressed or outfitted appropriately, and/or if they are not coached and trained well. A Scout could just as easily injure himself or others while playing marbles as he can while playing football or Karate. However, the BSA found that a number of sports present a significant risk to Scouts and Scouters and the BSA does not allow them to be used to meet requirements toward various badges or as inter-unit play during Scouting events or meetings.**   The list is codified in the Guide to Safe Scouting, in a list entitled "Unauthorized and Restricted Activities". The list, which can be seen in it's entirety on our website, includes the following sports or sports equipment:

·         All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)

·         Boxing, karate, and related martial arts-except judo, aikido, and Tai Chi

·         Exploration of abandoned mines

·         Varsity football teams and interscholastic or club football

·         Flying in hang gliders, ultralights, experimental class aircraft, or hot-air balloons (whether or not they are tethered); parachuting; and flying in aircraft

·         Motorized go-carts and motorbikes for Cub Scout and Boy Scouts

·         All motorized speed events, including motorcycles, boats, drag racing, demolition derbies, and related events, for all program levels

·         Amateur or professional rodeo events

·         Paintball and Laser Tag.

·         Hunting by Cub Scouts or Boy/ Varsity Scouts

·         Motorized personal watercraft, such as Jet-Skis (tm)

·         Parasailing

·         Bungee cord jumping

Part of the justification as to why the various martial arts and tackle football were not included as an option for meeting the requirements is also included in the Guide for Safe Scouting in the following statement:

"The general policy of Scouting is to train youth to do safely the many things they normally do, such as swimming and boating; handling firearms, knives and axes; riding bicycles; and hiking and camping. Scouting's disapproval or restriction of hazardous sports and activities is a positive policy to keep fun in the program and to develop sound judgment through experience. It is consistent with our principle of safety through skill on the part of leaders and youth."

Someone wrote us, stating, "The study of Karate involves physical exercise, learning, focus, commitment and dedication. These programs teach discipline and respect, and the use of common sense before self-defense", and we agree completely that these are very valid comments.  However, most Councils do not carry enough insurance to cover the injuries which could be sustained accidentally or on purpose through such activities, and Boy Scout Councils, and even more importantly, individual units like Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops, do not maintain or stock the appropriate padding and safety gear necessary to carry out those sports safely.

So, specifically with regard to Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and other martial arts, BSA does not permit any martial arts activities as part of its program, except defensive Judo, Aikido, and Tai Chi. Even for those three, they add limitations, as documented in one final quote from the Guide to Safe Scouting:

"Judo, Tai Chi, and Aikido
If Scouts and Venturers practice defensive judo, Tai Chi, or aikido; it should be done with proper mats and with qualified instructors related to YMCAs. colleges or athletic clubs whose objectives and coaching methods are compatible with the principles of the Boy Scouts of America."

Even in the lists of sports acceptable for the SPORTS Merit Badge, the lists end with the following statement, "(Or any other recognized team sport approved in advance by your counselor, except boxing and karate.)"

Given those statements, we're sure they wouldn't consider adding Tackle Football, Karate or other martial arts to the Cub Scout program.

If you still feel strongly about this, you may want to write directly to:

Director, Cub Scout Program Division

National Office

Boy Scouts of America

1325 West Walnut Hill Lane

Irving Texas 75061-2079

Note that, in general, BSA does not publish or release direct email addresses to the general public, so we can't provide an e-mail address for submitting your comments to BSA.  Also keep in mind that the USSSP has no way of getting official email to the BSA's programming division offices as the USSSP is not connected with the BSA, except as individual volunteers.


Thanks for asking us...we get a lot of great ideas for new programming and we do read and as we're explaining to you, do answer in great detail each posting.

Unfortunately, as we on the Project Team would love to sit in on some of the decisions and recommendations which are made, we are not a part of that "circle" within the BSA which makes those recommendations and decisions.  Some folks, upon getting our response, simply "blow off" the answer and our sincere recommendation to write directly to the BSA.  Trust me when I type that the BSA does read and carefully consider every suggestion, idea, and of course, program improvement modification sent to them from the field. It may not get implemented right off -- the BSA does do a great job in carefully researching and field testing new program options -- but change does occur within the BSA.  That's how the program has grown over the years -- and that's how it will continue to grow in the coming decades.  So please offer them the opportunity to consider hockey and lacrosse as Cub Scout Sport pin/belt loop activities!

Hope that you're having a wonderful year of Scouting in the United States and thank you again, Darby, for contacting and asking us here at the USSSP!!




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