CLEARFIELD, Utah — Youth football in Clearfield could soon be reduced to a memory.
Clearfield City decided to drop youth tackle and flag football from its parks and recreation department offerings for the 2021 season.
City leaders cite two metrics that drove the decision.
One is declining participation. In 2015, the city says 175 children signed up to play football. That number fell to 129 in 2019.
The other factor is money. The cost for a child to play football is $288. Families are responsible for $130 of that fee, meaning the city is left to foot the remaining $158.
“We understand it means a lot, but with the amount of money we are spending, and the number of individuals affected, it just didn’t make fiscal sense,” said Trevor Cahoon, a spokesperson for Clearfield City. “We just couldn’t find a way to have it be sustainable in the city.”
The news is devastating to families with children who love the sport.
“It’s heartbreaking,” described Staci Rude, a mother of two boys who play football. “[I'm] angry, disappointed, let down.”
Staci says her boys thrive from playing on the Clearfield Thunder.
“Our coaches and the brotherhood that football provides in our children’s life is something you can’t find anywhere else,” Staci said.
She wishes the city would be willing to continue to invest in youth football because it she believes it helps create future leaders.
“When you have a child that plays here week after week and feels at one with the community, he’s picking up garbage people left behind because that’s the pride instilled in him. That’s going to be lost,” Staci said.
Staci is joining other football moms to find alternatives. One option is organizing a football program led entirely by parents.
“We need a lot of support,” said Kasi Starkey, a mother of two boys who play football.
Running a team will present a host of new challenges.
“We need funding, we need to make sure we have practice fields, we need to make sure we have a field to play on, we need to make sure we have equipment,” Staci said.
The city hopes impacted athletes will be able to find roster spots on teams in neighboring cities.
Staci and Kasi both say there is no guarantee that will be a viable option.
One thing that is guaranteed is these proud football moms are not giving up on the 2021 season.
“My sons are going to keep on playing football, “Kasi said.
“We will find a way, but they are going to make it 1,000 times harder on us,” Staci added.
Clearfield City also dropped a volleyball tournament and youth competition basketball.
It continues to offer more than 50 recreation and sports options, including Junior Jazz basketball.