Several weeks ago, we covered a bounty scheme in a California association of a youth football league. The same league is in the news again this week after coaches allowed a team of 10- to 12-year-old boys to rack up no less than five concussions in a single game. All of the injured boys were on the losing team. The other side won, 52-0.
With more awareness of the enormous dangers associated with brain injuries-especially for young athletes-coaches and other athletic staff should have more of a responsibility to respond appropriately. While it is unclear why the coaches allowed the game to continue, the league itself acted immediately to prevent similar cases in the future.
Its aggressive reaction shows the gap between the league's appreciation for these risks compared with the coaches' indifference.
The league permanently banned three officials who supervised the game. Both of the coaches are now suspended for the rest of this season and will stay on probation for all of the 2013 season. Similarly, the league put the presidents of each team association on probation for failing to stop the game. Instead, these presidents sat back and watched the concussions pile up.
These serious brain injuries come as the entire sport of football faces increasing criticism for these kinds of dangers. Thousands of professional football players are suing the NFL for not disclosing brain injury risks. Multiple brain injuries can accumulate to cause a degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE causes the brain to abnormally deteriorate, resulting in memory loss, dementia, and severe depression.
While this football league's response shows how aware it is of these dangers, the individual coaches and officials demonstrated a concerning indifference to the wellbeing of their young players. As the league's president said, "one concussion is too many."
Source: Boston Globe, "One Pop Warner game results in five concussions," Bob Hohler, Oct. 20, 2012