Oct 23, 2012, 4:35 PM EDT
They stop boxing matches when one side is being pummeled mercilessly, so why not the same rules in youth football? It happened in Massachusetts, where both head coaches were suspended for the remainder of the season, and the referees working the game were banned for life, after five players reported concussions during a single Central Mass Pop Warner League game last month.
Five boys aged 10 to 12 reported concussive symptoms during or after the game, won by Southbridge over Tantasqua, 52-0. The coach of the losing team, Erik Iller, says that the Southbridge players may have been targeting his players with helmet-to-helmet hits. Things got so out of hand that Tantasqua had to finish the game with less than 11 players.
“There were three concussions early and then two more at the end of the game,” coach Iller said.
The Southbridge coach, Scott Lazo, countered that Tantasqua players got hurt because they didn’t know how to tackle or run properly. Then, this quote happened:
“If you lost that many players, you should have called a timeout and come seen me,” Lazo said in an interview this week. “My team is not dirty. All the issues were on their side of the field. This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment.”
Turns out, though, that it was a Hallmark moment, as five players will require get well cards.
Pop Warner has a mercy rule after one team goes ahead by 28 points or more. By rule there will be no kickoffs, with the team that’s behind getting the ball at the 30 to start each possession. Also there’s a running clock, and the team that’s ahead must take out as many starters as possible.
According to the Boston Globe, those mercy rules were not enforced in the game in question.
It’s my opinion that we’re seeing the beginning of the end of football as we know it. Perhaps not at the NFL or major college level: there’s too much money involved. But from small college on down, it’s on its way out, and concussion issues will be the driving force behind the extinction.
We welcome our new lacrosse and soccer overlords.
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