While New Canaan’s highest elected official has suggested dissolving a committee tasked with overseeing youth sports in town and transferring the responsibility to a standing commission, fellow members of the Board of Selectmen are pushing back on that move.
The Youth Sports Committee—widely known among locals for instituting a per-player, per-season fee for fields use 18 months ago, an effort that was itself a few years in the making—was formed in the wake of “some well publicized issues,” Selectman Nick Williams said Tuesday morning.
“It became apparent that nobody was looking at youth sports, which is huge in this town, from the town’s point of view. The not-for-profits had youth sports organizations—soccer, football, et cetera—but there was no hub for those folks and the Youth Sports Committee was designed to be that hub, the clearinghouse for information, exchange of best practices, things like that.”
The comments came during a discussion of several volunteer “committees”—Deer Committee, Spencer’s Run Committee and Dog Litter Committee, for example—whose futures appear to be uncertain.
Regarding the Youth Sports Committee, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that he would prefer its responsibilities be reassigned to the Parks & Recreation Commission, which is “charged under Town Charter to oversee, manage both parks and recreation in the town.”
“Since that is a functioning ongoing commission, we would be better off putting the Youth Sports Committee function back into the commission,” he said.
Williams said that he was “not averse” to looking at it, but that Parks & Rec already “has a lot on its plate” and that having a dedicated committee that pays attention to Title IX positions New Canaan well in terms of legal liability.
“We have a dedicated committee that among other things covers Title IX issues,” Williams said.
He added: “You have got to have general equality of the access to and use of the fields and other athletic facilities. And if you don’t have that, you have got a problem.”
Ultimately, Moynihan said the selectmen would return to the question of the Youth Sports Committee, and others, at its next regular meeting.
Moynihan asked Williams whether Title IX applies to government-funded and volunteer youth sports—to which Williams answered unequivocally yes.
“It is very easy to get into the net where you are ensnared by Title IX,” Williams said.
Moynihan responded: “All the more reason that I would like to have it more formalized with a commission that functions on an ongoing basis.”
He added: “I do not like committees that do not meet, do not function. I like commissions that are chartered by the Town Charter to function as intended. So I think I would really like to see serious issues taken seriously by commissions that meet regularly. That is my only point.”
Selectman Kit Devereaux said continuing the Youth Sports Committee “sounds like it needs to be looked at.”
“It sounds like it solves for a need,” she said.
With the town taking an oversight position it would seem more likely to make them party to a lawsuit than if it was left to the individual leagues to police themselves. As example I do not believe that the town was named in the 2012 LAX title IX lawsuit that took place prior to commission being formed.