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Jul, 2023

Let’s Find the Joy in Youth Sports Again

Emotion in sports is inescapable. 

We feel it with time running out and our team is driving down field to tie the game. Or when your team pulls off a flawless performance in regionals.  Pop Warner football players, cheerleaders and dancers will undoubtedly experience a mix of feelings next week as they prepare for the upcoming season: anticipation, maybe some fear, and a lot of excitement. 

But sometimes emotion in sports can be destructive.

In the most disturbing examples, Yaqob Talib, the brother of former NFL star cornerback Aqib Talib, pled guilty this month to murder in a shooting death of an opposing coach in a Texas youth football game. In Vermont earlier this year a brawl among parents during a middle school basketball game left one man dead.  In both cases, the emotions of adults exploded because they could not put one simple fact into perspective: grownups are out of control watching children playing a game.  And too often we hear about parents from one team fighting parents from another team, including at Pop Warner events. 

Even when there is no assault there is taunting, screaming, profanity directed at officials, coaches, other parents, and children. While there are far more examples of good sports parenting, the vocal minority is getting louder and more abusive. 

It is not only making youth sports less attractive for kids and families, it is making it impossible to play games. It has led to a mass exodus of an estimated 50,000 high school referees over a three year period, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. 

It’s time to stop. If you can’t control your emotions at a Pop Warner event there will be repercussions. We have updated our code of conduct and it will be enforced. 

Failure to abide by these expectations are grounds for removal from competition. Pop Warner reserves the right to remove individuals or the entire team. Depending on the infraction, a one-year ban from Pop Warner events and programs will be considered. A repeat offense of the same infraction may result in a permanent ban. All removals will be without refund.”

This season we will also be launching a public service campaign aimed at encouraging adults to behave better at sporting events. You will see it in video, social media and other executions but we encourage you to be the living example.  

Slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Put the experience in perspective and remind yourself these are children at play. Nothing more than that. Let them have fun. The kids probably won’t remember the score in a month or what you think is a missed call.  What they will remember is the positive experience of playing and competing with their friends. Don’t ruin that with bad behavior on the sidelines.

Support. Cheer. Encourage. Be the positive example for your kids and everyone around you.


Pop Warner Little Scholars

P.O. Box 307 
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047

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