Youth Athletics charter in effect, implementation effort underway
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
The Youth Athletics Charter, a document with origins going back to 2009, was officially promulgated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr on March 1.
The promulgation means that the charter, which deals with governance of elementary-age athletics at Catholics parishes and schools, is in full effect but a timeline has been established giving parishes, booster organizations and leagues time to get in compliance.
Further, a transition team has been recruited and gathered to help launch the charter, field questions, provide orientations to league and parish athletics leaders, coaches and parents, and to develop what will become the Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Athletics Commission. The commission will be the agency by which the archdiocese will assess the compliance of leagues and athletics organizations with the charter, and will deal with situations of charter non-compliance, or with serious breaches of charter compliance. Membership will be appointed by the archbishop and it will begin operation in the summer.
The charter includes, among other things, codes of conduct for athletes, policies of eligibility, limits on late practices and games for young children and a policy of not holding athletic events on Sunday mornings.
“We’re in a period of time when our transition team is meeting,” said Sean Renyolds, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “There is a framework described for implementation.”
The prohibition on scheduling athletic events during Sunday Mass times, during the Triduum and a note about the precedence of religious education went into effect last August.
From March to Aug. 1, 2014, the transition team is promoting the charter’s mission and goals. The primary purpose is to transform youth athletics in the archdiocese into a form of youth ministry with Christ at the Center.
From Archdiocesan Press release:
When the Youth Athletics Task Force started working on the Charter, those members named these elements as key to “victory” in Catholic youth athletics:
• clear and robust Catholic identity;
• safety and well-being of children;
• evangelizing mission;
• youth athletics as a form of youth ministry;
• leadership, virtues, skills and character development;
• guidelines on Catholic worship on Sundays, holy days, etc;.
• consistent standards and expectations for all teams, athletics organizations, and leagues;
• high standards of quality with accountability;
“The Charter delivers on each of these elements,” said Sean Reynolds, director of the Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry. “And all that remains is to bring all our athletics organizations, with their teams, players, coaches, and fans – and all the leagues in the Archdiocese, numbering more than a dozen or so – into compliance with the Charter.”
A Youth Athletics Charter Transition Team will begin that process. One of its tasks will be to form an Archdiocesan Youth Athletics Commission to implement the Charter.
On Aug. 1, the commission will provide compliance materials to leagues and athletic organizations. Leagues (Dec. 31) and athletics organizations (March 15, 2015) have deadlines to return their self-compliance assessments. By July 15, 2015, the commission will rule on compliance issues.
A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.