Pop Warner Football has been an American tradition since at least the early 1950’s. Literally millions of kids and several generations of young athletes have learned how to play and enjoy tackle football from playing Pop Warner ball.
But as the scene shifts these days in sports, we may see the end of Pop Warner football soon. Let me explain why.
In 2011, a 13-year-old Pop Warner football player attempted to make a tackle, and he tried to do so by leading with his helmet. Sadly, the boy broke his neck on the play, and he’s now a quadriplegic. A major lawsuit ensued, brought by the injured boy’s family against Pop Warner. As you might imagine, his medical bills for the rest of his life are going to be astronomical.
The thrust of the lawsuit is that the Pop Warner youth coaches really weren’t trained as to how to teach proper tackling techniques to younger kids. Or as was revealed in this case, the youth coaches hadn’t been paying attention to the coaching videotapes that Pop Warner provides. And that, of course, is most discouraging, to say the least.
Remember that most Pop Warner coaches do something entirely else for a living than coach kids in sports. That being said, it’s fully expected that the coaches will view the training tapes and other coaching materials so that the coaches can teach kids the basics and fundamentals of how to play the game. In this case, it was admitted that the coaches had not done their homework.
HOW MANY LAWSUITS?
Even worse, it turns out that the Pop Warner organization only carries $ 2 million in insurance liability coverage. The boy’s medical bills are going to start around $10 million and will go up. That’s not good news for Pop Warner and its insurance carrier. Yes, they may settle out of court with this young man, but this kind of financial stress is not going to bode well for the long-time football organization. Pop Warner also is looking at a lawsuit from the family of a deceased 25-year-old who killed himself. His family is claiming that the boy became seriously depressed from suffering too many concussions when he played Pop Warner ball. An autopsy revealed a good deal of CTE in the man’s brain.
In addition, as enrollment in youth football has declined suddenly in recent years, it turns out that Pop Warner as an organization has been losing money. That’s not good news either.
What will happen to Pop Warner? It’s still too early to say. But bear in mind that this an outfit that has simply tried to bring fun into the lives of millions of young football players, and of course, the organization is not about generating profit. Yes, of course, these individuals who have brought suit against Pop Warner have every right to do so.
But as our society continues to be increasingly litigious, it’s just a matter of time before more and more lawsuits are filed against other youth sports organizations. And that could spell the end of these “for fun” operations.