CYO football leagues are more fragmented than Pop Warner, American Youth Football, and other established youth leagues. Some Catholic dioceses, under financial pressure from abuse scandals and declining church membership, have outsourced their sports programs to their parishes and booster clubs, which often operate on tight budgets. and vary in the rigor with which they teach safety.
Yet some dioceses are taking more control over their youth sports programs, not less. In Cleveland, Ohio’s largest diocese, CYO is run by a full-time staff who manages 11 athletic programs for 20,000 children, and has a set of charters and regulations for liability and legal protections. He introduced seven-on-seven football to make it easier for young players to play and drastically reduced the number of contacts in practice.
The diocese is also working with the Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital to track concussions and other injuries. University Hospitals Sports Medicine, which operates throughout Northeast Ohio, provides experts to teach coaches about the prevention and treatment of injuries, including concussions.
Dobie Moser, director of CYO for Catholic Charities in Cleveland, hopes the additional measures will strengthen the tackle football program, which has seen a 42% drop among seventh-graders and a 58% drop among eighth-graders. year between 2014 and 2019. The flag football program during the same period has grown rapidly.
“CYO is not immune: the trends and problems in football also affect us a lot,” said Moser. “We are not blindly optimistic that what we are doing will reverse these trends.”
All volunteer coaches must take courses in basic medicine and sports education. Soccer coaches are also required to attend a nine-hour Soccer Safety Course to get coaches to stop using outdated fighting methods they learned growing up, when head injuries were less taken in the past. serious.
“CYO’s biggest asset is the quality of the coaches,” said Moser. “The biggest risk is the quality of the coaches.”