Your parish priests recognize that sports and sporting events seem to trump Mass attendance. Because of the culture of our times and living in a diverse culture, sporting events are common on Sundays, as are other youth activities. Even when a popular professional sports team is playing an afternoon game, many people are in a rush to get out of Church.
It's not the sports on Sunday that's necessarily problematic -- it's the over-importance attributed. It would be better to schedule games on Saturdays but this doesn't always work well either.
Instead of a negative approach which is bound to cause rebellion among certain parishioners, the priests need to get back to basics and emphasize the importance of attending Mass. There are times when outside events produce some degree of legitimacy as far as some people needing to get out of Mass as soon as possible, even though there could be an element of disrespect. I would leave that up to a person's conscience. But....to see this on a regular weekly basis isn't contributing to spiritual growth.
As Catholics, we have an obligation to attend Mass. We are fortunate to be able to do this on Sundays AND Saturday early evenings. Any activity should be planned around attending Mass. Ideally it's to show the proper reverence to our Good Lord instead of trying to see how we can squeeze in Mass attendance into a busy schedule. With few exceptions, it's an easy thing to do.
An outright ban would most likely be ignored by many. In this we see two Commandments being neglected:
1. Thou shalt not have strange gods before thee. This is where the over emphasis on sports has crept in.
3. Remember: thou shalt keep holy the Lord's day.
The priests may have the right ideas in mind, but need a better approach to solve the problem.
I recall a major league baseball player who refused to play games on the Sabbath. He was Jewish. How are we practicing our Faith on the Sabbath?
Great post, Ray! Aren't you on your Parish Council?