Last Updated: August 23, 2017

A diocese, parish or other Catholic institution sponsors a Catholic youth sports program, as one dimension of its comprehensive ministry to youth. Athletic programs can help young people toward imperishable crowns as well as perishable ones. The sports program justifies its existence, and the sacrifice and expense it entails, only if it helps young people practice and live Gospel values through their athletic experience.

Catholic sports programs serve the needs of all youth and reflect the diversity of the community. They enable the gifted to excel, the less gifted to participate and improve.

Principles of fair play and sportsmanship must govern every game. Competitors must not borrow from professional sports any questionable techniques for winning at any cost.

All participants should have the respect of others on their own team and the opposing team. Competitors should regard the opposition as friends, not enemies.

Participants should have a spirit of loyalty to Catholic ideals, to parish, to coach, and to the team. They should learn patience with and tolerance of those with less ability. They should feel grateful to all who make the program happen. Speech and actions should reflect Christian values.

At times, during the heat of competition, a participant may temporarily forget some rule of conduct. Prompt correction can turn even failures into learning experiences.

Ultimate responsibility for the success of Catholic-sponsored programs lies with the volunteer adult participants. Adults involved must remember that the program exists for the Christian growth of young people. Conduct of adults must always model Christian values and virtues. When adults forget the primary focus of the sports league, the program becomes destructive. When adults remain faithful to the Christian ideals, they exercise a unique and rewarding ministry to the young with whom they come in contact.

"Run to win," St. Paul advises (I Cor. 9:24). In youth sports, all who compete can win, if they run to win the real prize; closer union with Jesus Christ.

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Adapted from the CYO Athletic Manual, Diocese of Oakland.