TimeOut with Tambo: The debate on youth football leagues
To answer these questions, other questions have to be answered. Let it be known from the beginning that I am not taking sides. I am merely acting as a “devil’s advocate.” Before you go and call me a Satanist, research the term, devil’s advocate.
The existing youth football league in Ramona is Pop Warner. I was there when Pop Warner was started by Jack Packwood. He started it for two reasons: to help the youth of Ramona and in doing so to help the RHS football team. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
What is the goal or goals of youth football? I have a master’s degree in reading and to answer that question one usually has to read between the lines.
What is the purpose of playing youth football? A politically correct answer would be to give young athletes an opportunity to play the sport. One of the arguments against Pop Warner is that it has weight limits. Big kids, the real potential football players, can’t play or have to play against much older and more mature athletes. There are no weight or height limits in youth basketball, soccer, baseball softball lacrosse, etc. Why are there height and weight limits in Pop Warner? Most youth sports are based on age. Little League, PONY League, AYSO, GSA. Pop Warner is the only major youth program that has weight limits. Wrestling by the nature of the sport has weight divisions, so don’t go there.
One side will say that the weight limits in Pop Warner are there to reduce the possibility of injuries. The other side will counter and say that the majority of injuries occur when an older more mature athlete collides with a younger less mature athlete of the same weight.
What is the purpose of playing a youth sport? It is not so a coach can stack a team, which has happened in Pop Warner and AYF and every other youth sport. Whenever a kid who is not obese or is actually slender has to lose weight to play football, something is wrong. Whenever there are two teams in the same division and one team has all of the older, lighter, faster players and the other team struggles to stay uninjured, something is wrong.
Is the purpose of youth football to build for the high school program? In some communities, that is the case. In Texas, they play school football starting in elementary school, and in those communities the purpose is to build for the high school program. The elementary and middle schools run the high school’s program. That is not the case in Ramona. Some coaches try to run the Bulldog offense and defense. Most do not and have not.
Is the purpose of youth football to build the egos of coaches? Is the purpose of youth football to ensure that the coaches’ kids play the glamour positions? Do the coaches go to clinics? Are the coaches current on the latest techniques and safety factors? If only one coach on the staff is CPR and first aid certified, then something is wrong.
Right now I do not know what the real issues are with two youth football leagues in one community. I really don’t think that I want to know. I hope that it is not about the egos of parents, coaches, and board members. I do know that nothing good will come from the competition, and in the long run kids will be used as pawns.
I do have a suggestion. Get together. Make up your mind as a community what is best for the youth of this community. Is AYF what we want? Is Pop Warner what we want? Not is AYF best for me or for my kid. Not is Pop Warner best for me or my kid. Not my kid can be a star in AYP/PW.
Damon Baldwin is being very politically correct. “Anytime a kid plays tackle football, it helps the sport and Ramona football.” He is not going to get into the middle of this. The man has a master’s degree.
I am not taking a side. What matters is the adult supervision. We have had some great administrators in Pop Warner. With great leadership, any organization can flourish. We have had some great coaches. We have also had leaders who had personal agendas. We have had coaches who had personal agendas. That happens in every organization and sport from youth to professional.
Figure it out. What is best for the majority of the kids in this community? Don’t shop your kid. Do what is best for every kid.
If a coach promises you that your kid can and will be a star, then that is not a sport; it’s politics. How much do you trust politicians?
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