- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Calvert County Division of Parks and Recreation will be working closely with a youth football league’s board after the most recent season ended in controversy for a Huntingtown team.
The county commissioners stated this Tuesday in a letter sent to the parents and coaches of the football league.
During the post-season, the letter states, the parks and recreation staff will work with the league board to “evaluate what changes should be considered to the rules and guidelines, in an effort to avoid a repeat of these problems.”
The problems the letter referenced occurred in November when the county commissioners intervened after the Calvert County Youth Football League was told that a 13-year-old boy was playing on the Huntingtown Hurricanes 12 and under team.
Despite a new rule stating that for the 2012 football season, children must be placed on teams based on their age as of July 31, 2012, the boy, who was already 13 by the date, played the entire season on the team.
The letter sent this week from the commissioners says that there were “several issues concerning rule violations” and those violations “centered around failure to follow rules and questionable judgment.”
The letter also states that it was “imperative” for the commissioners to intervene when the issue “had a direct impact upon the integrity of the league.”
When the boy’s age was made known to the league’s board, parks and recreation staff decided the team had to forfeit all of the games in which the boy had played.
Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) was then contacted and decided with his fellow commissioners to overturn parks and recreation’s decision.
The letter from the commissioners referenced “an apparent conflict of interest” among youth league officials at the time when they learned of the boy’s age. Critics of the call to forfeit the games said that the league’s board is made up of coaches of teams that would benefit from that action.
Calvert County Youth Football League board spokesman Greg Disney said he felt Tuesday’s letter was an insult to his board and parks and recreation staff.
“The bottom line is [the commissioners are] trying to place blame where it shouldn’t be placed,” said Disney, who is also the commissioner of the Chesapeake Beach Buccaneers youth football team.
“The letter, to me, is them trying to make themselves feel better about what they did,” Disney said. “We did our job; parks and recreation did their job.”
Disney took aim at the implication that the rules might have to be re-evaluated.
“The rules were crystal clear; there were no gray areas. ... Huntingtown agreed to these rules; they chose not to follow them for whatever reason,” Disney said.
Though Disney said his board had a good relationship with parks and recreation staff — which he said “did a wonderful job” handling the situation — he said the league could eventually exercise its right to go completely independent from the county.
He said the youth football league board would be meeting with parks and recreation shortly and he expected the commissioners’ letter to be discussed.
Calvert County Administrator Terry Shannon said the point of the commissioners’ letter was “trying to explain a little bit about their position of why they felt they had to intervene.”
Shannon said the upcoming meetings between the youth football league board and parks and recreation would be centered on how to prevent the situation from occurring again.
She said if the league was to become completely independent, its relationship with parks and recreation would only be in regard to field and referee assignments.
Tammy Jones, whose son was on the team of the Huntingtown player granted the exception, said she was pleased that the commissioners seemed to recognize that there was a conflict of interest with the youth football league board members being coaches themselves.
“The football board votes so their team’s interest is at heart,” Jones said. “... It got out of hand when it didn’t need to be.”
Suzanne Crawford, whose son was on the Dunkirk youth football team, said the letter from the commissioners “didn’t ease my concerns at all.”
She said she is concerned that an exception was granted for a rule that was broken.
Crawford added that she felt the commissioners contradicted themselves by saying youth sports should be about building healthy lifestyles and developing good sportsmanship.
“Breaking the rules and being able to continue isn’t a skill of a healthy lifestyle,” she said.