TimeOut with Tambo: The debate on youth football leagues

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With the formation of a new youth football league, will there be a civil war in Ramona? Are there enough youth football players to field two 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.

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