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Youth Football Coaches Face $200 Fine For Running Up The Score

By , September 25, 2013.

The Northern California Federation Youth Football League put news rules in place this season to keep strong teams from blowing out weaker ones. If any team wins a game by more than 35 points, that coach will be fined $200 dollars and suspended for a week. Teams must also bench their starting line-up if they lead by 28 points or more at the half.

The justification of the “Mercy Rule” is that sports need to be all-inclusive and fun for everyone. “We lose a lot of football players because their teams lose so badly,” said Robert Rochin, NCFYFL’s deputy commissioner. “If they are constantly getting beat, who wants to play anymore? We lose kids all season long because of that.”

Many parents of players are not happy with the rule because they feel it cheats their children out of a chance to develop and also poses a risk to their safety. Kelly McHugh has a 13-year old that is a kicker for a team, but he rarely gets used for fear of running up the score. She said: “Now they are afraid their coaches are going to get suspended and they are not going to have a coach to come out here and play football.”

“The kids who are in the position of trying to protect their coach are backing off and are at a higher risk of being injured,” added parent, Brent Moore.

The league considers the issue a no-win situation. Some parents think the rule is too harsh while others don’t think it goes far enough. It’s certainly a matter of perception. The parents of the kids getting slaughtered are going to complain that nothing is being done to protect them and the parents of the kids on the top teams are going to feel their children are not being given a chance to excel.

Ultimately, the league feels the fines and suspensions are justified. “It’s not hurting the kids, it’s teaching them compassion for the other team. It’s teaching them sportsmanship,” said deputy commissioner Rochin.

Once again youth sports gets a little sillier. We already have leagues that do not keep score and give trophies to everyone. Parents that have never played sports, or at least were terrible at them, who live vicariously through their children, spur these types of rules on. As long as everyone gets equal playing time and regulations force parity, they can keep the lie alive that their little doodlebug is destined to turn pro.

I know of what I speak, I am a youth ice hockey coach. Over the years I have encountered many parents that had kids who could barely skate that genuinely felt were a lock to make the NHL. These are the parents that complain about playing time, poor officiating, and scores being run up. They think they are protecting their children, but what they actually do is make the team sports experience miserable for their little ones. The kids just want to compete and have fun. When the parents bring the anger in, it negatively affects them.

The league I coach in does not have a mercy rule and certainly no fines for running up the score. A few years ago our team lost a game 18-1 (that’s equivalent to losing a football game by 126 to 7). I was not happy with the opposing team’s coach for his lack of sportsmanship but the kids didn’t care. They understood the other team was much better than them and I let them know they tried their best. In the locker room after the game the only thing the kids were worried about was if I had brought snacks and juice boxes for them.

We are doing our children a great disservice by watering down youth sports. Important life lessons are lost when we apply the PC principals. Some people are better at things than others. It takes hard work to achieve your goals. Life is not always fair. This whole thing reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron, where the title character has his superior strength and intellect hindered so he will be average like everyone else.

  • Robert

    That’s stupid. If the team sucks oh well. Taking out true competition will only hurt the kids. Weaken their drive to want to improve themselves and their team.

  • Rickymac McManus

    Lets have two leagues..the real league…..and the pussy league.

  • jjbreen

    We are not suppose to compete it seems – WTF is going on??? I agree with Rick – Real League and Wuss’s league. Good grief, what happens when they hit the ‘real world’ and find out it’s not ‘fair’???

  • jjbreen

    Isn’t California where the adults wanted to fine Seattle for being to “loud” (excited) about their team??? (yes …) Get the kids and families out of California that have common sense before it’s too late.

  • Larry

    It’s the pusfication of America. Nobody ever loses. Everyone is a winner, until you get out of school and the real world kicks you square in the balls.

  • Larry

    I see no problem with playing the second or even the third string if your so far ahead, it helps those players to learn to play better and not be as nervous if or when they get to start. As for the fines, that is stupid.
    This is the crap that has helped with the failure of education and other areas of our great nation. Has also caused the huge amount of not taking personal responsibility that this and the last generation has taken to heart.

  • Fran Russell

    Hard to tell your kids to “Always do your best” EXCEPT when you play a really really bad team. I call BS on this

  • Bob Powell

    The object of the game is to score points! If the other team can’t stop you from scoring too bad so sad!

  • Miguel Miquel

    totally wrong. people have to learn in real life there are real winners and real losers. this also teaches people that winning is bad. this is not true. in real life one person getting rich does not mean another person has to be poor. this is piss poor attitude to have in life. I hope that the losing teams all give money to the fine system to support the winners. I also hope that the people in this community band together and start another league without these bs rules.

  • Jim Shields

    2nd place is for the last loser. Play to win or stay home.

  • icy69hot

    If your kid sucks at Football then work with him to make him better. There are no pansy’s in Football, you are either a winner or a loser and there is no middle ground.

  • Douglas Miller

    I don’t believe in a mercy rule, but I do believe in a mercy atmosphere. There is no need to run up a score on an opponent that is thoroughly out matched. Playing reserves, giving players the opportunity to play other positions, or challenging your own team with new rules that will make it harder and them better, in order to establish good development for the whole team..

    Divided leagues are a good idea, but I think that we can call them “Recreational” and “Competitive” Leagues as opposed to “Real” and “Pussy” or “Wuss” Leagues.

    And please rid our culture of this “everybody deserves a trophy” scenarios. I see this culture in education as well as sports. If a team doesn’t deserve it, that is life. Lessons need to be learned, and some of the greatest lessons to grow and mature is when there is an occasional loss that drives players to step up their game.

  • dauchshundsrule

    Sooo, they learn in school not to win TOO much. Then if they do go on to play in college or NFL, they have to relearn how to play to win? I’m flabbergasted! OUTSTANDING (stupidity!)

  • Brad Merriman

    LIE, Fox news proved that there is no 200 dollar fine.

  • TM McKeny

    How about just having two leagues. One for the pu$$y parents who don’t believe in competition and that every thing should be “fair” and another league for kids who’s parents understand that competition is a good thing,

  • Paul Kopacko

    Stupid is as stupid does.