A heads-up for youth sports
Buried inside the Globe’s Sunday sports section was a story about a Pop Warner football game last month where five children between the ages of 10 and 12 suffered concussions. All of the injured children played for the Tantasqua Pee Wees, who lost the game to a team from Southbridge by a score of 52-0. The injured children played the entire game and were not diagnosed with concussions until later. The two team coaches and their assistants were suspended last week by the Central Massachusetts Pop Warner league and all three officials at the game were permanently banned. Pop Warner regulations require “mercy rules” to be implemented when one team leads another by 28 points.
Patrick Inderwish, president of the league, said the injuries were the result of bad officiating and poor decision-making by both coaches. “There’s an obligation to walk across the field and say, ‘This thing is out of hand,’ and nobody did that,” Inderwish told the Globe.
Pop Warner has more than 285,000 children ages 5 to 15 playing in its leagues. With fears growing that youngsters may be more susceptible to concussions and that the effect may be cumulative, Pop Warner two years ago implemented new rules designed to reduce the number of head-on collisions. This year the league limited the amount of contact players can have during practices.
The rule changes were spurred by research on 6- to 8-year-old football players indicating that most collisions on the field are on a par with an “aggressive pillow fight,” but 5 percent have the force of a “car accident.”
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