This Game Is Not Played on the Field

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

For kids, playing sports is usually about having fun. But for some Staunton parents, it's a whole other ball game, literally. WHSV found out about two Staunton youth leagues that are in danger of extinction - all because of a disagreement between, not the kids, but the adults.

The Staunton area is steeped with football tradition, with high school teams like R. E. Lee. But the Fighting Lee Men of tomorrow are facing a battle today as the coaches of two youth leagues are looking to claim Staunton's turf as their own.

"They've signed up a good many people, and we've signed up a good many people as well," says Jacques Matthews, President of Diaper Dans of Virginia, the newer football league. "But we can't seem to get together on who's going to be in charge who's going to be coaching and things of that nature."

The Staunton Youth Football League has been around in some form since the 1950's. And the city partially supports it with $7,500 a year. But a new group is looking for their share as well.

"If the funds are there for that to happen then let's a find out how to get more kids involved in the program," says Matthews. "And if not then we'll set up a program and we'll seek those funds."

Normally there's enough money for 35 players for each of three age groups. But the number of kids in the program has fallen off.

"I know the senior league had about 14 players and both the midgets and the juniors were less than 30," stated Matthews.

Dan Bonner with Staunton's Parks and Recreation Commission doesn't believe the two sides will ever get together.

"I'm not really optimistic about any mediation at this point because the two sides seem to disagree with one another not simply about philosophy of teaching football, but philosophy about dealing with young people," explains Bonner, who serves as the commission’s chair.

And that could mean trouble for youth football.

"My biggest fear is that if we have two organizations trying to have youth football programs, that we'll end up with no youth football program," says Bonner.

Bonner is supposed to advise the city council how to distribute the money. There's no timetable on the recommendation, but practices start in August.

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