Youth league teaches values over football - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Youth league teaches values over football

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Fights involving parents and coaches in youth sports seem like they are happening more often.

For that reason, Ron Jennings started the Lakota Youth Football League in West Chester. The league is based on four key principles: Faith, family, school, and then football - in that order.

"We have an epidemic going on across the country that is like that," said Jennings. "We forget that this is just youth football and basically it gets at a win at all cost and we'll do anything. We'll scream and yell. We'll attack the refs verbally. We'll attack the other coaches verbally and we have to stop that."

Dave Wood has been officiating youth sports for over 35 years. He says most of the time it's not the kids who show unsportsmanship, it's the parents and coaches.

"We have had a few instances where we have had to eject some parents," said Wood.

The Lakota Youth Football League's motto, "Developing young boys into men beyond the goal line," is focused on life lessons, rather than the final score. During practice, coaches sit down with players to talk about school, and a Bible lesson is given. 

"Which is kind of cool, just to take a break and have somebody else besides your parents talk about stuff other than football," said parent Lloyd Sova.

While the Stallions teach kids life lessons and good sportsmanship, there are also requirements for coaches and parents. They all must sign a contract.

"We have played a lot of organized youth sports and never have had anything like that before," said Sova.

"At first I kind of thought, 'well that's a little overboard to sign a contract for football,'" said Shawna Hudson, another parent. "I think it helps him to learn the importance of being there for other kids. Him and some other kids on the team will be the first to go other to another player and help them off the field."

The contract for coaches lists dozens of guidelines, including any coach that has a penalty flag thrown on him for unsportsmanship like conduct could receive an automatic one-week suspension from practice and the next game. If a coach receives a second flag in the season,  that coach could be fired.

And any parent that threatens, attacks, or shows any anger or aggression towards a referee, coach or other parent will be expelled from the program.

"We want to set up front that everybody knows that they can't talk to the ref, they can't yell to the ref. The coaches have to make sure they play everybody," said Jennings. "If somebody doesn't up hold to the contract, we try to minister to them first saying, 'this is what we need you to straighten away.' It has worked perfect for us."

The contract is to try and prevent arguments and fights before they happen. And parents say a league not focused solely on winning and losing is making a difference.

"We definitely want to teach them how to win, but it's not a win at all cost," said Jennings. "We feel like our kids are winners before they go on the field no matter what the score is."

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