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Youth football coaches suspended after teams rack up five concussions in one game

Oct 23, 2012, 4:35 PM EDT

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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.”

Wow.

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.

  1. southernpatriots - Oct 23, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    If there is conclusive evidence that Southbridge players were “targeting…players with helmet-to-helmet hits” then much more needs to be done. Pop Warner should consider a longer suspension of the coaches for Southbridge and perhaps expulsions. Concussions, or head injuries, are serious, especially at such a young age. Medical evidence indicates that once a concussion is experienced, it is much easier to suffer another one, and repeated concussions can lead to mental incapacity as has been and is being experienced by many NFL players. This type of behavior should never be tolerated by players and obviously taught or allowed by coaches and officials. Players should have been expelled from the game, and coaches as well.

  2. mybrunoblog - Oct 23, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    While I don’t agree that youth football is on the way out I can tell you firsthand that it’s popularity is waning among parents. The concussion risk is serious and very real. In my opinion kids would be better served by skipping youth football. If a kid really wants to play freshman year of high school is a good starting point. By age 14 kids are bigger, stronger and smart enough to understand the risks. If the boys are well coached they will learn proper tackling techniques and have a chance to lower the odds of a concussion. American football isn’t going away but soccer and baseball suddenly look a lot more attractive.

  3. skids003 - Oct 24, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Why were the referees banned for life? You can only call something after it happens. And concussions are the coaches responsibility, all the ref can do is send the player off the field. And if it was a dirty hit you can’t call anything until after it happens, you can’t make a call based on what you think might happen, that’s completely stupid. The authorities must be idiots.

    • manchestermiracle - Oct 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      C’mon, skids, it’s all in the article:

      “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.”

      Enforcement of those rules is on the game officials, particularly the head ref. 52-0? Apparently not enforced whatsoever. The losing coach should have simply called off the remainder of the game. The league and those officials will be lucky to not be sued by rightfully outraged parents.

  4. kansascindy - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    As far as I am concerned, this is child abuse and should be prosecuted as such.