I can’t imagine that I’m the first one to broach this subject and I’m going to assume that others will agree with my sentiments regarding CYO sports on Sunday. Many kids today play on too many travel/tournament teams that last all year round, take up too much time and cost too much money.
Everyone seems to buy into the idea that these kids need more specialized coaching, a personalized warm-up shirt and a different bag for every sport. Kids don’t need their parents driving them around to practice like a chauffeur in between school, homework and dinner. Then they get home at 9:30 on a school night, after which Mom and/or Dad gets to decompress maybe for 15 minutes before they all fall asleep. They need the time and attention of their family and friends.
Now I realize that they have friends on their team, but that shouldn’t be all consuming. I really enjoy sports and seeing my children enjoying themselves out on the field with their friends. What I don’t really enjoy is being exhausted and seeing my children exhausted after a long week of school and sports only to have it continue through the weekend with no break.
I think parents probably agree with the general gist of what I’m getting at. The problem is that the parents (many of whom seem to be living vicariously through their children), are the ones in charge of scheduling.
If your kid’s team doesn’t do well in local tournaments, there is really no reason to drive two hours only to lose again. Does anybody want to break up a holiday weekend with a two-day tournament? I’m sure Mom just loves taking little Johnny to his games on Mother’s Day. Who are these people that feel like sports are more important than family time?
It might be OK if you had one child and your family was at all the games. The problem comes when you have more than one child. Now every weekend the family is split up. Mom is at Jack’s game with Mary. Dad dropped Timmy off at practice and then had to drive Andy to his soccer tournament. Mom will then take Jack to his next game, pick up Timmy from practice and all the while keep Mary in tow. They will all meet up later at home, maybe eat dinner together if they are lucky and start it all again on Sunday.
Yep, Sunday? The old day of rest. The day when you would get up, go to Mass, have breakfast together and then go to your grandparents’ house and hang out with your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
This is where children learn how to be adults, by interacting with the older members of their family — not from their friends and unlikely from coaches who are OK with games on Sunday night.
Although most CYO coaches likely agree with me, I think they just passively go along with it because that’s just the way it is.
This needs to change. I don’t necessarily think all sports need to end on Sunday, but I find it absurd that CYO needs to schedule games on Sunday. This past weekend, my children had three games during the week including a game on both Saturday and Sunday. I have six children, but the two we are talking about in this scenario are 11 and 13.
There is no reason why these kids need to play all those games. One or two games a week plus practice is enough for CYO. This is not the major league. They are just kids who want to get out, get some exercise, play with their friends and have fun.
My kids have always had a great time playing CYO sports. I just feel that they would still have a great time without games on Sunday and then have time to have a great time with their family. That’s what it’s about.
When the glory days of sports have faded, you realize it was about having fun, learning how to be a good sport, a good teammate, being inspiring to others, being inspired yourself, picking up your friends (and at times your foes), getting along with each other, competition, listening to your coach and working well as a team.
All of these things are valuable life lessons. Sports should complement your life, not consume your life and the life of your family.
I’m not advocating for the abolition of sports, just CYO on Sunday. One less game a week equals more time for family. There is a reason the Lord rested on the seventh day. It’s important. Let’s work together to make family first.
Thomas Newman is a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Southampton.
Editor’s note: According to the policy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, CYO games and practices are not to be scheduled until after 1 p.m. on Sundays, which underscores Catholic values especially participation in the Sunday Mass. If an exception to the policy is made due to an emergency, teams are required to attend Mass together to strengthen their bond and call to mind that they are representing the CYO as Catholic athletes.
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Not just athletics, but theater rehearsals and performances, music activities and other events can interfere with the Sabbath. Just last week, a member of our family was told on Thursday there would be high school play call-backs at 12:30 on Sunday. When this student said that she was committed to cantoring the 12:00 noon Catholic Schools Week Mass in her parish, she was criticized in front of the cast as not really caring, and should get somebody else to do it. Wrong message for teens.
Excellent article!!! You described my family’s routine for the last ten years. Time to bring our Sundays back.
My thoughts exactly!
Though I wish we did not have Sunday afternoon games, it is better than these 7th and 8th graders having 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm games on school nights! I wish every coach in CYO realized this is about friends having fun, and THIS is not semi-pro or leading to scholarships. More sportsmanship would be great! Cheers to St. John the Evangelist for starting each game with a prayer!
If that’s what you want for you and your family that’s fine, Mr Neuman. However don’t push for the abolishment of CYO sports for everyone else. There are people who enjoy Sunday sports and consider it a family gathering
Very well said. Sadly, CYO sports can become the “unofficial religion “ of a parish if there is no strong pastoral leadership.
Tom, years ago, I sent a similar letter to multiple Archbishops of Philadelphia. I was passed over to the Head of Schools and we began a very frustrating discourse on this topic. We bemoan constantly the breakdown of families in our society yet we as a Church do nothing to advance or enable the very things that you have highlighted. Sunday’s were not only Holy days but they were Family Days. The Archdiocesan Head of Schools at the time (no names here) informed me in no uncertain terms that he as well as most parents and coaches would disagree with my assessment and he had backing to support his argument. He said that CYO sports does more to bring families together and most people would agree with him. He emphasized the time in the car together and the building of community but ignored the obvious fact that families were actually being torn apart on Sunday. He pushed aside my assessment as not true.
I was astonished but I guess not surprised. Youth sports is big business whether it is Church sponsored or not. Everyone knows this but we just let it happen. We therefore have become a sports-crazed Church at a time when we need more than ever to get back to basics. I suspect that Jesus himself would have loved CYO, but not on Sunday, unless it was to specifically work on a Service Project or some other meaningful community or family-centered event.
Now nearing the end of my own children’s participation in CYO sports, I lament that I didn’t do more to work to end CYO sports on Sunday. I had hoped that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would have taken a lead in setting an example of keeping Holy the Lord’s day as I suggested to the Archbishop. I even suggested that the Diocese of New Orleans had taken steps to end Sunday sports. Instead, we have perpetuated the societal pressure to let sports and the never ending cycle of over-extending our children continue. Families have suffered immeasurably as you allude to. The pressures exerted not only by CYO but all of the other sports leagues are killing families. Families are the foundation of our Church and we need to do more to get us back to a time when everyone could rest together and have dinner as a family that’s not from Wawa or McDonalds and maybe even talk to each other.
I pray that your grass roots efforts yield more results that my feeble attempt when I tried starting at the top. If anything ever gets done on this, I fear that the letters objecting to any cease and desist order will far exceed the comments that you will receive for your article. That unfortunately is a testament to what is the overall sad state of our society today. Where is God we ask, yet we give him 45, 50 minutes each Sunday and then abandon Him. How sad for us. God Bless your efforts.
The CYO experience is a well rounded and thought out process and gives those student-athletes who are not talented enough for the travel and tournament teams the opportunity to play in a Christian atmosphere. Sunday games are a necessary evil in most areas where gym time is at a premium. Many CYO programs do not have gyms that can host many of the older children’s games in safe playing conditions without running into stages, walls,,etc, especially in the City schools that are much older. In our parish, games are held all weekend long to avoid games being played during the week so that the children can be at home for dinner more often with the family and do their “Homework” on school nights. It is up to the parents to determine what is important in all cases. Maybe Johnny and Mary do not need to be on the Township Travel Team, the tournament circuit and CYO. If they give up CYO, the lesser talented kids will get more of an opportunity to experience what it is like to be on a team and actually get real playing time instead of the obligatory quarter of action. We use the High school only rules later in the day on Sunday. They don’t want to be in the house anyway.
I agree whole heartily. Society’s sports obsession is out of control. It is affecting college costs, student debt and resources available for the poor and others in needs. We have college students going to food cupboards.
Per a NCAA report dated 9/2017:
* Footballl Bowl subdivison colleges (130 schools) subsidize their athletic programs $18M per year or a combined total of $2.3B
* Division I with Footbal (95 schools) subsidize their athletic programs $11.2M per year or a combined total of $1.1B
* You can go down the list – the behavior is the same.
Per a article in HuffPost we have a “Athletic Arms Race” in college sports. The sports obsession is influencing our Youth Sport programs to the detriment of family life and children just having fun among themselves. And, there are businesses that profit greatly in fostering this obsession. What can be done? I have no answer.