Philosophy and Purpose Of Catholic School Athletic Programs
In the Diocese of Belleville
The Catholic school athletic programs exist in the Diocese of Belleville to enhance the relationship between faith, religious practice, and the activities of daily living. Sports programs are an integral part of the Catholic educational and catechetical mission.
All activities within the Catholic school environment are designed to assist this mission by helping young people develop a strong moral character* based in faith. The educational experience is meant to bring the entire person (mind, body, and spirit) closer to his or her realization that every child is made in the image of God. This character development must underlie the total daily school experience.
Every aspect of the school experience must contribute to this endeavor from the quality and thoroughness of academic work, to how the students behave and treat one another, and to how they play on the playground. Formal athletic programs offer a unique opportunity for adults to supervise youth in the application of Christian principles learned in the school environment to the often highly emotional past time of sports. Athletics is one of the most effective ways to teach “applied Christianity.”
For instance, school athletic programs present ideal opportunities for teaching youth important life lessons: setting and meeting goals, controlling impulses, overcoming challenges and obstacles, and learning to sacrifice for the good of others. Playing sports can teach youth self-discipline, respect, responsibility and perseverance, and generate moments of pride, satisfaction and joy, regardless of the wins and losses a team may experience.
All of these virtues and social and emotional abilities are at the core of the Gospel message. Making connections between such virtues and abilities and the person and teachings of Christ is one of the challenges of making a sports program a truly Catholic experience, which is the challenge facing every Catholic school.
It is imperative that school leaders and coaching staffs work closely together to ensure that the athletic mission contributes to the school’s overall spiritual mission. The school’s academic and athletic programs, as well as all school activities, must contribute to the spreading of the Gospel. Teaching and coaching philosophies within the school must be frequently evaluated to make sure they are reflecting the values of Jesus.
*A strong character is formed and maintained when an active and well-formed conscience becomes a consistent moral guide, and such virtues as patience, generosity, honesty, obedience, compassion, understanding, respect, tolerance and prudence become habits of thought and action.
Elementary Level School Athletic Programs
1. As Diocesan Policy 2211.2 states, the ultimate aim of principalship is to provide Catholic educational leadership in the total school community. This leadership and responsibility extends to school athletic programs for elementary age students. All elementary athletic programs, athletic directors, coaches, and athletic associations or boards are under the direct supervision of the principal.
A. It is recommended that all school athletic programs have an athletic director or a person designated who is responsible for coordinating the athletic program.
B. The athletic director is accountable to the principal.
C. The athletic director and all coaches are to be approved by the principal each year.
D. School athletic associations/committees/councils are accountable to the principal. (The principal and/or athletic director will keep the school board of education informed of the athletic committee's activities.)
E. The principal and pastor are to receive a semi-annual financial statement from the athletic committee.
F. The athletic director should give a written evaluation of each coach to the principal at the end of each season along with the recommendation on whether the coach should continue coaching or not. Evaluation forms are available on the Office of Education Portal at www.diobelle.net.
G. The principal should fill out an evaluation form on their Athletic Director every year.
H. This policy should be distributed to every parent/guardian at the mandatory parent’s meeting and IF POSSIBLE, POST ON YOUR SCHOOL WEB SITE.
I. There should be a mandatory parent’s meeting prior to every athletic season. Both parents must sign off on the Parent Code of Conduct.
There shall be NO PRACTICES OR GAMES on the following dates: January 1, August 15, November 1, December 8 or December 25, Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday.
2. Athletic Activities per Week
A. Students of grades 5 thru 8 should have no more than four athletic/sports activities per week, including practices and games. Sunday to Saturday shall constitute a week. When a student must participate in two games on a given day, it shall be considered one activity. For basketball, a student playing in two games can only participate in six quarters for the two games.
B. A student may only participate in one sport per season. For example: A student cannot participate on a soccer and baseball/softball team at the same time.
C. No regular games or practices/open gyms are allowed on Sundays. The exception to this rule is diocesan tournaments and local high school feeder tournaments.
D. When school is cancelled due to inclement weather, no practices, games or local tournaments are to be held.
E. Students who are absent from school may not practice or participate in games unless there are special circumstances approved by the principal such as a funeral or doctor appointment. Exceptions to this must be approved by the Office of Education.
A. Practice time for grades 1 thru 4 should not exceed one hour. Practice time for grades 5 thru 8 should not exceed two hours.
B. Practice time should be limited during semester exam week and during holiday vacation periods and holidays, as determined by the school board of education.
C. Open Gyms
Open gyms on Sunday are not allowed.
Open gyms during the season constitute a practice. In the off season, open gyms must follow the following rules:
D. Any practice with another team outside the school will count as a game.
Note to Principals and Athletic Directors; please remember that the length and time of a particular sport season may be changed or altered due to local conditions or league requirements. Any alteration or change in these dates must be approved by the Principal. If there are any questions please call the Faith Formation Office.
B. Fall Baseball
C. Volleyball - Boys/Girls
D. Boys Basketball
E. Girls' Basketball
G. Special Note:
A. The coach must be approved by the principal and athletic director prior to each season. All coaches must attend mandatory coaches’ meetings. The method and time of these meetings will be announced by the director of sports.
B. Each coach and AD must obtain Win the Prize certification from the Office of Education. Effective in the fall of 2000 all new coaches, assistant coaches, and anyone having direct contact with children must follow the child protection policy which includes a criminal background check – fingerprinting for coaches that receive compensation, Cants, and the Initial Child Protection Policy Training. Forms are available on the Diocesan Faith Formation website at www.diobelle.net.
C. Each athletic director is to be evaluated at the end of the season by the principal. Each coach is to be evaluated at the end of each season by the athletic director and principal, especially on the following code of conduct: (Forms are available from the Office of Faith Formation). Athletic Director Evaluations will be kept on file in the Office of Faith Formation. All Athletic Directors are required to evaluate all coaches at the end of the sports year. These evaluations should be kept on file in the particular schools’ office.
D. Each coach must be 21 years of age. A coach under the age of 21 should be the "assistant coach" and be under the guidance and supervision of the adult (21 or over) coach.
E. All coaches, assistant coaches and athletic directors shall have completed the required two hour concussion training approved by the SIJHSAA before coaching duties begin.
All schools shall have adopted a concussion protocol to be followed in the event of a possible head injury and communicate that protocol to all coaches, parents of athletes, and student athletes prior to the start of practice and/or games.
5.1 Code of Conduct
A. No abusive language or actions.
B. Coaches shall make a concentrated effort to keep scores in any contest such that the opposing teams will not be embarrassed.
C. Coaches’ actions shall be such that they promote good sportsmanship among everyone present.
D. Coaches shall always remember that their actions reflect on the reputation and good name of his/her school.
E. Coaches shall treat all officials with respect.
F. It is strongly suggested that coaches know the rules of the game and do not dispute judgment calls.
G. Coaches shall treat their players with respect at all times.
H. Under no condition shall champagne or any other alcoholic beverage be part of any team celebrations.
I. It is strongly recommended that each player be given an adequate opportunity to participate.
5.2. The coach is also responsible to see that:
A. Players do not use abusive language.
B. An athlete's actions shall be such that they promote good sportsmanship among everyone present.
C. An athlete shall always remember that his/her actions reflect on the reputation and good name of the school.
D. Athletes shall treat all officials with respect.
E. Under no circumstances (in speech or actions) shall a player or cheerleader question an official's calls.
F. The coach or supervisor shall arrive at the game with the team and be present in the dressing room before and after a game.
5.3. Code of Conduct for Coaches, Players, Parents, and Spectators:
Each school may make such additions as seem necessary to promote good sportsmanship. Each school shall set a code of behavior for their fans which promotes good sportsmanship and takes into account the level of competition. The coach and athletic director shall be responsible for enforcing the code of behavior for fans.
Any official, coach, principal, parent, etc., has the right and is encouraged to inform the
Office of Education when anyone violates these codes. A letter shall be sent to the Office of Education and a copy to the principal of the school in question. The Office of Education will rule on these matters.
Therefore, the coach, along with the school athletic director, is responsible to see that:
A. Parents/fans and supporters of the school athletic program do not use abusive language directed at the referees, players and coaches from other teams.
B. Parents must attend a mandatory parent meetings prior to their child’s participation in sports. Each school’s Athletic Director and Principal will devise their own method of arranging these meetings. No child can compete in diocesan sports unless the parents attend this meeting. Each parent is to receive a copy of the diocesan sports policy.
C. Parents/fans and supporters of the school athletic team treat all officials with respect and refrain from criticizing officials during and after games. Parents and fans are reminded that their actions reflect on the reputation and good name of the school. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT PARENTS REFRAIN FROM MAKING EXTREME NOISES DURING ANY ATHLETIC CONTEST, e.g. BANGING ON BLEACHERS, OR LOUD NOISES DURING FREE THROW ATTEMPTS, SERVES IN VOLLEYBALL, ETC.
D. The actions of parents and fans promote good sportsmanship among everyone present.
Note: Starting in 2000 the above statements are optional and do not necessarily need to be read before the start of any diocesan controlled events. Each school should have the parents sign the Win the Prize parents’ pledge card. It is further suggested that each school hold a parents’ meeting prior to the start of each sport or one large meeting to cover good sportsmanship practices that would support the Win the Prize program and cover the Diocesan Sports Policies and Regulations.
E. Any Coach, Player, Parent, or Spectator ejected from a game will receive a one game suspension, and may not attend the next contest. This suspension includes any game for the rest of that day and the next scheduled game. Two ejections of a coach, player, parent, or spectator will result in an automatic suspension for the remainder of the school year for all athletic activities.
Starting in 2000, each school should submit an Incident Report form to the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation in the event of any unsportsmanlike conduct by coaches, players, parents, and fans. These reports should be submitted within 24 hours and should not be based on the calls of officials or referees. A copy of any Incident Report will be sent to the principal of the offending school.
F. An incident report should also be filed if a school does not provide for adequate certified officials and does not do everything possible to be a responsible and gracious host.
A. Any parent or fan disregarding these guidelines shall be asked to leave the gym or playing field. If the parent or fan disregards the request to vacate the area, the game shall not continue until the person(s) leaves and could result in forfeiture of the game. The coaches of both teams shall see that these regulations are enforced. Any parent or fan that consistently violates these regulations shall not be allowed to attend games until determined by the principal or parish athletic director. ANY COACH REFUSING TO ENFORCE THESE REGULATIONS SHALL BE SUSPENDED TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY AS DETERMINED BY THE PRINCIPAL OR SCHOOL ATHLETIC DIRECTOR.
B. WHEN THE PRINCIPAL OR ATHLETIC DIRECTOR IS NOT PRESENT AT AN ATHLETIC EVENT, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COACH TO INSURE PROPER FAN BEHAVIOR.
5.5 When School teams stay at hotels, motels, etc., each school must provide a designated supervisor to oversee the behavior of both parents and students.
6. Salary/Stipend Guidelines for Coaches & Athletic Directors
A. It is encouraged that school athletic directors receive a stipend depending on the financial condition of the school and athletic program.
B. It is encouraged that a stipend be offered to each person coaching a school team, and that a stipend be offered for each team coached, depending on the financial condition of the school and Athletic program.
7. Team Size/Cutting of Players/Team Composition
A. Schools may determine the size and composition of each team. (Such as when to have two teams at a particular age group because of the number of students that want to play in a given grade) When team rosters exceed the recommended team roster limit the school shall add additional teams as needed. These additional teams may be based on player ability. Availability of facilities for practices and games, and the availability of other teams to play may necessitate varied opportunities for practices and games among school teams. In all cases, the Diocese of Belleville does not allow the cutting of players from any team.
B. When a school does not have a sufficient number of students to participate in a certain sport, the principal and athletic director shall contact the Office of Education to seek available roster spots. When a neighboring cluster school does have roster spots the two principals must agree with the registering of the student(s) for the team. The principals shall work with their school=s AD’s to place the student(s) with a school team, when both schools agree. This will be done on a sport-to-sport basis but must be done prior to the beginning of that sport season. When the two principals agree, a written request or e-mail must be submitted to the Office of Faith Formation. If a school takes players from another school, they must take ALL AVAILABLE players from that school. The combining of schools can not take place until written permission is given from the Office of Education. If a school does not cluster with any other schools or there are no roster spots within the cluster available, the Executive Committee for Athletics will suggest a list of schools within the Diocese that may be contacted regarding possible roster spots.
# Only students officially enrolled in a Catholic school in the Diocese of Belleville can compete in school and Diocesan sports activities. Home-schooled and Parish School of Religion (PSR) students are not eligible. When a Catholic school is unable to meet the academic needs of a student/s, student/s will be eligible to participate in the school’s athletic program. The student/s must be enrolled in the Parish School of Religion. Any exceptions to this rule must be submitted in writing or e-mailed to the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation and must be approved by the Executive Committee for Athletics.
# When schools combine with other schools for a particular sport it could elevate them from small school classification to large school status for Volleyball, Basketball and Track according to total enrollment numbers.
*When sending in rosters please note if student is from another school.
7.1. Team Size/Team Composition
A. Written justification is required for any student moving up two grade levels to play. Permission must be obtained from the parents, athletic director, coach, principal, and by the Office of Faith Formation.
B. A 5th or 6th grade student may play on a "B" or 7th grade team with the permission of the parent, athletic director and coach, and principal.
A 4th grade boy/girl can play on Junior team ONLY with Diocesan approval.
C. Permission to play on both a Junior and Parochial team for any diocesan tournament must be received by the Office of Faith Formation before the start of a tournament. For this to occur, the principal's permission is needed.
D. Team rosters shall be submitted to the Office of Faith Formation no later than two weeks into the season of that particular sport. Rosters must be received from all schools whether you play in diocesan tournaments or play in your area. ONLY those on that roster will be allowed to participate in the diocesan tournament or event. The roster must include all players and all coaches. The official roster form given in the packet to each athletic director must be used for the rosters of all teams.
Note: Any exceptions must be approved by the principal and the Office of Faith Formation.
4th Grade Organized Sports
A 4th grade boy/girl can play on Junior team ONLY with Diocesan approval.
While activities may be organized to provide introductory 4th grade athletic experiences, no school may conduct a long-term competitive season at this level. Teams shall engage in a maximum of (4) scrimmage activities. These activities are subject to Diocesan regulations. (This does not apply to soccer.)
8. Playing Time
A. Playing time and selection of starters in grades seven and eight will be up to the discretion of the coaches and will be dependent upon a coach's evaluation of an individual student's ability, attendance, attitude and behavior at practices and games. Again remember, the Diocese of Belleville does not allow any cutting of players at any level.
B. The emphasis of the athletic program in grades five and six shall be learning fundamental skills and gaining self-confidence. Coaches shall give each student as much playing time as possible (this does not mean equal playing time) as well as a chance to start some games; however student’s attendance, attitude, and behavior at practices and games also will determine the amount of playing time. All rostered players shall have played by the end of the game in all diocesan controlled sporting events.
C. Students and parents who have questions, concerns, or complaints should first consult with the coach after 24 hours have elapsed from the time of concern. In the best interests of the children, both the parents and the coaches should make every effort to keep the lines of communication open. Whenever an issue is not able to be resolved, the parent, student or coach should approach the athletic director and then the principal.
D. It is required that all parents be informed and given a copy of the Diocesan Sports policy at the beginning of each sports season of the school's policy and guidelines regarding team composition, playing time, and player eligibility, as well as, parent and coach behavior at games.
E. School athletic programs are encouraged to develop their own criteria in addition to that stated above for playing time at each grade level.
9. Cheerleading and Pom Pon Squads.
A. A school may have one cheerleading or pom pon squad. This squad should be composed of eighth grade students. Only seventh grade students may be on the squad if there are not enough eighth grade students for the squad. This must be approved by the principal, pastor and School Board of Education before a seventh grade student can participate.
B. A student shall participate in only one team sport or athletic activity at a time. The four activities per week rule, #2A, apply for cheerleading.
C. There may be no more than 8 members of the squad on the floor at all times. This rule does not pertain to half time dance routines.
D. A squad shall cheer for one "A" game each day. Under no circumstances may any squad for a school perform at fifth, sixth, or seventh grade games.
E. The awarding of trophies for cheerleading squads at basketball tournaments or games shall be eliminated.
F. The cheerleading squad should have an appropriate time and place to practice with proper supervision. Attendance at games and practices must be properly supervised and must follow the same guidelines established regarding the boys' basketball teams.
G. Cheerleading moderators must be certified and approved by the Office of Faith Formation and be approved by the principal and athletic director. The cheerleading moderator is under the direction of the athletic director and must be 21 years of age or older. An adult moderator or supervisor must always be present at games and practices. All drills, movements, and routines shall be approved by the cheerleading sponsor, athletic director, and principal prior to implementation. Under no circumstances shall what is considered "acrobatic" activities be included in a cheerleading routine. The following activities are not allowed:
This policy also includes public school teams utilizing a Catholic school facility.
* Failure to follow this regulation may result in total ban of cheerleading and/or forfeiture of games at which the cheerleaders performed.
10. Team Behavior
a. Grade school years are a time for the development of friendships. Placing students in an intense competition with each other in school-sponsored extra-curricular activities is not conducive to the formation of friendships and often results in unnecessary stratification. Therefore, any athletic team or cheerleading squad that is judged to be a disruptive element in the school by the principal and/or athletic director may be immediately disbanded for the duration of the season.
11. Player Eligibility
A. A player may be suspended or dropped from the school team only for major violation of school or parish policy. This can include repeated violation of published policies set forth by the athletic program. These policies should include statements on student attitude and conduct.
B. A student placed on probation or suspended from school is ineligible to participate in school sports activities until the probation or suspension is lifted.
11.1 Each school board of education and athletic committee shall develop a fair and just policy and procedure with appropriate guidelines that could allow all the youth of the school the opportunity to use the athletic facilities of the school.
11.2 All students participating in the sports' program must have a physical exam each year, and have a copy of the report on file.
A. A request permission form must be on file with the principal for each student participating in the athletic program; it should be signed by a parent or guardian. An emergency form for each student should also be on file.
B. It is recommended that the coach also be given a copy of these forms.
C. The permission form should also include information about the type of health insurance the student has.
11.3 Student classroom behavior and academic progress.
A. A student's classroom behavior and academic progress is best handled by the teacher and principal and, therefore, should remain a school and parental concern not usually connected with the school athletic program.
B. A student may not be excluded from participating in sports activities because of low grades or unfinished homework. However, if it is determined that a student's extra-curricular activities interfere with the student's academic progress or classroom behavior the student may be excused for a time. These situations shall be thoroughly investigated by the teacher and principal before any disciplinary action is taken regarding athletic sports participation.
C. Any disciplinary action connected with the school athletic program should be discussed with joint participation by the student, teacher, parent, principal, coach and/or athletic director. THE FINAL DECISION WILL BE DETERMINED BY THE PRINCIPAL.
D. Keeping in mind that the total welfare of the student is the primary concern, there are often many other effective and positive methods available that can help motivate a student's academic progress or behavior than excluding a student from playing sports.
11.4 Age Requirements
Exceptions: Granted in writing by the Office of Faith Formation.
A. For all athletic events, schools must use I.H.S.A. certified referees or other state or diocesan certified officials.
B. When uncertified or insufficient numbers of officials occur a school has the following options:
C. For all athletic contests, timers and score keepers must be at least 16 years of age. If not, rules 12A and 12B apply.
D. For those schools involved with soccer: All referees must be certified by the Illinois Youth Soccer Association or the Illinois High School Association (Starting Fall 2004).
13. Each local Board of Education should develop a philosophy statement on the purpose of elementary level athletic activities. The philosophy statement should be designed so that elementary athletic programs have their proper place in the lives of the students. School athletic activities should be enriching and enjoyable, and foster Christian charity. Excessive emphasis on winning and competition is not consistent with this approach and is, therefore, to be avoided.
14. Only Catholic elementary schools are eligible for participation in Diocesan sponsored elementary school tournaments.
A. After a thorough investigation, any school athletic program found to be in willful violation of these published policies, will be given a warning or placed on suspension. Notice of a probation or warning will be sent to the principal, School Board of Education and the athletic director.
16. Executive Council
A. The Diocesan Executive Council for Athletics will be convened by the Office of Faith Formation. The procedure for changing Sports regulations is as follows:
17. SCHOOL RESPONSIBILITIES IN HOSTING ATHLETIC EVENTS.
A. A PERSON SHALL BE DESIGNATED TO OVERSEE, SUPERVISE, AND COORDINATE EACH ATHLETIC EVENT HELD AT A SCHOOL.
B. THE PERSON SUPERVISING THE ATHLETIC EVENT MUST BE SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE COACH WHO IS PARTICIPATING IN A GAME.
C. A TOURNAMENT MANAGER CHOSEN BY THE DIOCESE WILL BE OVERALL SUPERVISOR OF ALL DIOCESAN TOURNAMENTS.
18. EVERY SCHOOL IS TO ADOPT AND FOLLOW A “24 HOUR” COOLING OFF PERIOD ON ANY CURRENT COMPLAINT OR FROM A PRIOR GAME TO DIFFUSE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS BETWEEN PARENTS, SPECTATORS, OFFICIALS AND COACHES.
19. IF A SCHOOL DOES NOT SHOW UP FOR A DIOCESAN TOURNAMENT GAME THEY WILL BE FINED $250.00. IF THEY CANCEL 24 HRS. BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT THEN THEY WILL BE FINED $150.00. THE HOST SCHOOL IS TO NOTIFY THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION. AN INVOICE WILL BE SENT BY THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION TO THE SCHOOL BEING FINED WITH PAYMENT TO BE MADE TO THE DIOCESE OF BELLEVILLE. ONCE THE CHECK IS RECEIVED THE OFFICE OF EDUCATION WILL REQUEST THAT A CHECK BE SENT FROM THE FINANCE OFFICE TO THE HOST SCHOOL.
Approved: March 20, 1984
Revised: August 1, 2016
Office of Faith Formation
Diocese of Belleville
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton
Bishop of Belleville