A Southern California Pop Warner Football teams possible use of a bounty system, a la the New Orleans Saints, is the latest scandal to blacken the eye of America’s favorite sport.
The national governing body for Pop Warner football says it has reopened an investigation into an alleged 2011 bounty system from one of its premier teams, the Tustin Junior Pee Wee Red Cobras.
According to reports, players on the team were offered anywhere from $20-$50 for big hits and knocking their pint sized opponents out of the game. Additional money was handed out if the big hits came against rival teams from Yorba Linda and Santa Margarita.
The Red Cobras went undefeated in 2011 and are considered to be one of the premier Pop Warner Teams in California and the country. Pat Galentine, the league’s president and former assistant coach with the Red Cobras, denied that any such bounty system was ever in place. Darren Crawford, the team’s head coach in 2011, said the allegations were perpetuated by “disgruntled” parents who forced their own children to exaggerate the truth.
Parents and players alleged that Crawford and another assistant coach, Richard Bowman, came up with the bounty program during three playoff games last season, but a vicious hit that left one opposing player with a concussion forced the coaches to hide the monetary reward system.
Crawford did admit he may have given some of the kids money for the snack bar. I found this in itself to be very strange. Does he have any idea how many licorice ropes one can buy at the snack bar for $50? Talk about overkill…and a stomach ache.
At first, the thought of a youth bounty system seemed preposterous. Not so fast.
Where there is smoke, there is fire and Pop Warner agrees. After the Orange Empire Conference dismissed the allegations for lack of evidence, Pop Warner stepped in an reopened the investigation.
This could get ugly. It was bad enough that an NFL team was caught paying its players for extreme acts of violence against opponents, but kids? If these allegations prove to be true than we could be looking at one of the more heinous acts of abuse by a group of adults that should know better.
And yes this is abuse; abuse of power, abuse of trust and abuse of kids that look to their coaches for guidance and direction. We haven’t heard the last of the Tustin Red Cobras. Stay tuned…
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