by Robert a. Williams

Nothing’s worse than a parent who learns their son’s football organization embezzled funds. The stench is horrific when adults purposely misappropriate funds for personal motives.  But this shady act happens more than we’d like to believe in youth football. A Google search will reveal a rash of youth football league’s funds pillaged by appointed representatives.  From league presidents to board appointed treasurers, embezzling funds almost seems vogue.  Often, and sadly however, culprits had stolen funds for a period of time before being apprehended.  Youth football is big business generating enormous amounts of funds topping in the millions.  Thus, it is time to reign in these private organizations and protect children and parents from misguided league officials.

“Some parents can’t believe the board isn’t pressing charges against the person accused of embezzling approximately $24,140.00 earlier this year.”

Hundreds of youth football leagues are preparing for the upcoming 2014 season.  Parents will invest valuable time, resources, and fees so their sons can participate in an American pastime.  Registration fees and traveling expenditures for all-star teams can increase out-of-pocket expenses for these families.  There is vast amounts of cash moving to and fro in youth football programs.  Thus, board of directors are responsible to assure proper appropriation of these funds.  However, something’s amiss among some football leagues’ accountability apparatus. In other words, adults are cheating and using monies for their personal use.  Consequently, youth football leagues and major stakeholders are witnessing a rash of embezzlement arrests and convictions.  Parents these are not isolated cases.

In several cases of blatant embezzlement, the culprit stole funds over a period of time before being discovered.  One former treasurer embezzled more than $100,000 from her youth football and cheer program during her 2013.  In another case, “a former board member offered no explanation for why she stole $17,621.62 from a youth football sports league.  As a result,  they had to eliminate scholarships for low-income kids because of the financial hit.”

“When the cheerleaders were on stage last year, police say Abercrombie was well on her way to stealing more than $20,000.”

What can parents and stakeholders do to protect our children’s money?  A certain immediate action is to require private football youth organizations utilizing public space accept 3rd party financial oversight.  If these football organizations are required to receive 3rd party certification (e.g., USA Football) to keep children safe when tackling (i.e., Heads Up).  Thus my proposal is not a stretch to require oversight for their financial safety.  Community members must protect children from adults that prey upon them.

Robert Williams is the executive director of Ysportreform.org, a social advocate organization.

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