Pop Warner football has instituted a number of safety rules to protect its youthful players, children, from head injuries. OK, so then how did five boys sustain concussions during one game on Sept. 15 in Massachusetts without someone putting a halt to the madness?
The New York Times answered that question this week: The “rules are only as effective as the adults who enforce them,” it wrote. The paper did a Page One story, headlined “A 5-Concussion Pee Wee Games Brings Penalties for the Adults,” about a match that will make your blood boil.
In September the Tantasqua Braves were pitted against the Southbridge Pop Warner team on a football field west of Boston. It was obvious to any observer that the poor Braves were out of their league against Southbridge, according to The Times. They lost to Southbridge with a score of 52-0.
But that’s not the tragedy of the game. The tragedy is that five Braves players sustained head injuries, which were later determined to be concussions, The Times reported. Anyone who knows anything abut concussions knows that they are particularly dangerous and damaging to youths, whose brains are still developing.
The injured Braves players were pulled from the game after getting hit, but neither of the two teams’ coaches even thought to end the game, since the Braves were literally getting creamed.
The Southbridge coach denied that his players were purposely trying to hurt the Braves. He put the onus for the many injuries on the Braves’ coach, for failing to just forfeit the game when the injuries started, according to The Times.
The Southbridge coach then gave this priceless quote to The Times: “My team is not dirty. All the issues were on their side of the field. This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment.”
After the infamous game parents piped up and complained, and last week there was a hearing conducted by the Central Massachusetts Pop Warner league. It did the right thing.
The coach of both the Braves and Southbridge were suspended for the rest of the season, according to The Times. In addition, the referees in that Sept. 15 game were banned from working any more games for that Pop Warner league, and the presidents of the Southbridge and Tantasqua programs were placed on probation, the paper reported.
By the way, four of the five Tantasqua boys who sustained concussions in the September match against Southbridge are back playing football already. I don’t consider that a happy ending to this story. It’s not a Hallmark moment.
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