It's the kind of incident that is rapidly making youth football a less palatable option for parents across the country. In a single Massachusetts Pop Warner Pee Wee division game, five players suffered concussions, left the game and then re-entered the action at a later point.
The tale of horrendous player management from the Pop Warner ranks in the Bay State was first reported by the Boston Globe and has since been covered by a variety of other media organizations in the Boston area, including MyFoxBoston. The injured players were all members of the Tantasqua Pop Warner program between the ages of 10 and 12, and were left with even more embarrassment when they also suffered a 52-0 loss at the hands of their Southbridge Pop Warner opponents.
"Having multiple concussions in one game is something that should never happen, ever,'' said Patrick Inderwish, president of Central Mass. Pop Warner, told the Globe. "One concussion is too many.
"[The game was marked by] bad officiating and decision-making by the coaches and all other parties involved. That game doesn't represent what Pop Warner stands for in any way."
According to the Globe, all five elementary schoolers missed school days following their concussions. Making matters worse, one of those head injuries came after the game should have been halted; Pop Warner regulations call for a game to be stopped once a team takes a 28-0 lead, yet both teams ignored that mercy rule in the one-sided drubbing.
The discipline taken against coaches of both teams from Pop Warner officials has been significant. Both coaches were suspended for the remainder of the 2012 season and placed on probation throughout the 2013 season. Additionally, the president of the Tantasqua Pop Warner association and the president of the Southbridge Pop Warner association were handed identical bans, all as punishment for not stepping in to safeguard their players.
The officials who worked the game were also suspended for failing to exert control over matters as they unfolded.
Perhaps most disturbingly, because the Tantasqua players' concussions went undiagnosed they were allowed to keep playing, putting them at significant risk of a much more devastating head injury.
There have been no early indications that such a disastrous consequence occurred, though the officials from both leagues deserve no significant credit for that.
Rather, everyone involved in the shocking five-concussion game should probably take a long, hard look at themselves for the lack of action that caused five elementary school students to miss school time and put themselves at significant danger of lasting injury, all in the name of continuing a one-sided blowout of a youth football game.
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