The NFL punished one of its teams for running a "bounty" program between 2009 and 2011. Bounty programs reward players for delivering devastating or game-ending injuries to the opposing team. As concerns about the effects of sports-related traumatic brain injuries continue to rise, football bounty hunting is a disturbing practice.
As if bounty hunting in the professional NFL were not bad enough, a California coach is facing an investigation into whether he offered bounties to 10- and 11-year-old boys. Sports-related traumatic brain injuries may be even more dangerous for young athletes whose brains are still developing.
The accusations initially came from a former assistant coach who saw the head coach give money to one of the players after a game. During that game, the same player delivered a devastating tackle to one of the other team's best players, incapacitating the other boy for the rest of the game. The youth league said that it received more information and had heard from several players, prompting it to launch an investigation.
If the allegations prove to be true, both the coach and the league could find themselves in legal trouble. The coach essentially encouraged children to hurt other children while the league might have failed to realize what was happening and put a stop to the program. Given the gravity of these accusations, criminal charges could also apply to the coach.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Pop Warner Probes 'Bounties'," Stu Woo and Miriam Jordan, Sept. 28, 2012