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Pop Warner Little Scholars YOUR FUTURE BEGINS HERE!

Bring on the Energy

July 19, 2022

As we get closer to the start of another season – our 94th – I find myself thinking of our student athletes and what they must be feeling this time of year. Maybe some butterflies. Excitement. Probably an occasional moment of frustration as their friends head off to the lake or the pool and they head off to practice.

But they’re in it together. Cheerleaders and football players. Thousands of them. Different sports but united in so many ways.

Which also makes me think about the Pop Warner experience, specifically the Game Day Experience. There is nothing like a community coming together around a sporting event.

We see it on Friday nights at the high school fields, Saturdays in college stadiums or played out in movies and TV shows. Community of friends and family and strangers taking their place in the stands or along the perimeter of the field. Players in a huddle, cheerleaders on the sidelines getting everyone pumped up. We hear it with the choreographed cheers, the PA announcer calling the highlights, the music blasting from the speakers, the whistle of the refs and parents cheering on their athletes. This is where football and cheerleading can come together to showcase what makes Pop Warner special.

Frankly, we see this spirit and unified game day experience in some associations more than others. While cheerleaders are prominent throughout the game with some teams, many others refuse to let them on the sidelines. For those who neglect to bring both sides of our family – cheer and football – together they’re missing out. And they’re doing a disservice to the kids, families and their own programs.

So let’s make 2022 the year we elevate the experience for our athletes across football and cheer, and for our families.

To help promote that we’re doing something special. We’re going to hold a year-long campaign to promote the Pop Warner Little Scholars Game Day Experience. You’ll be asked to post photos of your football and cheer teams together on game day, each doing what they love during the game. We will highlight a number of them throughout the course of the season and at the end of the year we will announce winners in each region. Those teams will receive some cool prizes. Please stay tuned for more details.

This is a special time of year and, more to the point, a special time in the lives of all our kids. Let’s celebrate that. 

Best of luck as you prepare for the season.



Jon Butler

Champions in the Classroom

May 2, 2022

Every year, I look forward to celebrating the hard work and achievements of our All-American Scholars. I am always so incredibly proud of the remarkable commitment thousands of our young student-athletes make to their academics, and no more so than these past few years which brought challenges of remote schooling and limited interaction with friends and teammates. It’s an exciting time, and one I hope you all get to enjoy with family and friends.

In the midst of this year’s celebration, I was asked “what does it mean to be a student-athlete?”

Luckily, Pop Warner has many great examples of what happens when you work hard not only in your sport but also in the classroom. Aerospace engineers. Police officers. Nurses. NFL players and executives. Teachers. Business CEOs. These are just a few.

Being a student-athlete is in our DNA. We were built on promoting the dual values of athletics and academics. It all started (nearly 100 year ago!) with the idea of giving young people a place where they could learn lifelong values that go beyond sport and be applied to all aspects of life. Today, we remain the only national youth football, cheer and dance organization with established academic standards. We believe that this distinction – the standards we set for our participants – instills in them a sense of responsibility that will help now and later on in life.  

Being a student-athlete means managing your time, giving strong effort in school and extracurricular activities, making good decisions, being disciplined and driven, and maintaining a good attitude. It means dedicating yourself to your athletics, but never ahead of your academics. (There’s a reason the word “student” comes first.)

There’s a stat that I think is important to share. Nearly eight million students participate in high school sports, less than 500,000 compete in college, and a fraction of them – just two percent – go on to play professionally. Let that sink in. Just two percent. It’s not to say that professional sports aren’t possible. They certainly are. But it speaks to the fact that education is vital and focusing on your studies can help build a foundation for success.

The road won’t be easy, but ask any student-athlete and they’ll tell you that it is always well worth it.

Congratulations once again to our All-American Scholars. We encourage you to continue your outstanding work in your sport as well as in the classroom, and hope to be celebrating with you again next year!



Jon Butler

How Champions Are Built

February 3, 2022

The last few weeks of playoffs have given us  some of  the best football we’ve ever seen. Comeback wins, thrilling score changes, heartbreaking losses. There’s been no shortage of blood (Brady’s lip), sweat (despite some record-breaking cold) and tears (from SF to KC to Green Bay to Buffalo and beyond). 

Competition breeds that level of emotion. But so does the journey. These players are working year-round on their skills, their strength and conditioning and their mental approach to playing at that level. Teams are working as units in OTAs and training camps. Their journey is long and it’s hard, requiring sacrifice, teamwork, perseverance.

While it’s tough to match the level of the NFL, we see a similar approach in Pop Warner.

In December, our 2021 season culminated in Orlando, where we hosted more than 7,000 student athletes from 64 football teams and more than 500 cheer and dance squads, all looking to do what those teams in the NFL have worked hard at doing – coming together as a single unit to win the ultimate prize.

Check out the details of who participated and who won here at our Pop Warner Super Bowl and Cheer and Dance National Championship website

Pop Warner is more than just playing sports we love. It’s about developing relationships, building character and learning life lessons. It starts in August when teams begin to practice, and goes through league, regional and national competitions. But it’s seen in more than the winning of a title. It’s also in the heartbreak of a loss. More teams lost during our championship week than won, and understanding how to deal with loss and how to come back better because of it are among the most important lessons any young person can learn. 

When a Super Bowl champion walks off the field in L.A. in two weeks, let's remember the work that it took to get there, and appreciate that the seeds of that hard work started for many of those players on a Pop Warner field 20 years ago.  And for the majority of young people who will never play a down in the NFL those lessons and that journey will remain equally valuable.  

Thanks and enjoy the (other) Super Bowl.



Jon Butler

Giving thanks

December 1, 2021

Last week millions of families across the country gathered for Thanksgiving, sharing the day with people who are important in our lives. The centerpiece was the food – turkey, stuffing and my favorite, cranberry sauce – and football. 

But this year there was a heavy helping of gratitude. 

For nearly two years we battled through the most challenging public health crises of our lifetime. The pandemic took so much from so many, including the loss of loved ones, the disruption of school or added financial distress. We’re not completely out of the woods and we need to remain vigilant but there’s a lot to be grateful for, including the return of normalcy for our kids and sports. 

This Saturday we will kick off our 64th Pop Warner Super Bowl and the Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships in Orlando. Last year, COVID-19 restricted us to host only a modified National Cheer & Dance championship and no football Super Bowl. 

Frankly, we had a challenge truly gauging how many teams would be able to make the trek to Florida because there has been so much uncertainty. The answer: a whole lot of teams will be making their way to Universal Orlando Resort, Camping World Stadium and Orange County Convention Center to try and win a national title. We are back to near pre-COVID-19 levels with more than 500 cheer and dance teams and 64 football teams.

Beyond this upcoming week, we are also grateful for the thousands of student-athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and families who made this year so successful under such uncertain circumstances. Sports teach young people about working together, putting in maximum effort and overcoming adversity. Together, the Pop Warner community checked all those boxes this year.

For that, I give thanks.



Jon Butler

Throwing a flag on the adults

September 30, 2021

Our friends at USA Hockey produced a great Public Service Announcement a few years back in which they implored parents to act like adults at their kids’ games and stop yelling at them from the stands. And their counterparts in Canada had a similar campaign. The spots perfectly capture the embarrassing and damaging behavior we see too often on the sidelines across youth sports. 

While there are far more examples of good sports parenting, the vocal minority is getting louder and more abusive.

Last week one of our leagues had to take the dramatic and unfortunate step of cancelling the tackle football season for three of its associations after a handful of football parents fought and screamed abusive language at other parents, coaches, officials and players. The video and reports from those games are appalling and embarassing. These incidents were beyond unruly, they were dangerous and they weren’t isolated.

When it announced its decision, New York’s Tri-Valley League wrote, “Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil it for everyone else. We as adults and representatives of our associations and organizations need to stop the finger pointing and coming up with excuses for bad behavior...The focus of any youth sports competition should be to provide a supportive and safe environment for our participants.”

It is the young people on those teams who are paying the price. Losing the chance to play the sport they love and having to witness physical and verbal altercations in the stands among parents is scarring. This kind of behavior has no place in youth sports. Or anywhere for that matter.

Parents, the message is simple. Do better. Be better. 

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. And they will certainly remember their parents getting into a fight on the sidelines.

So let’s be present in their lives, sit back, be positive and let the kids be kids. And adults, be adults.

Warm regards,

Jon Butler

Time to start again

August 26, 2021

While some see August as the dreaded last full month of summer, we see it as a beginning. It’s when teams of young people come together to begin their work toward a common goal. Where they prepare physically and mentally for the competition ahead, and where they learn to put the common good of a team ahead of their own personal wishes. We see that in Pop Warner teams across the country every week. It is what makes team sports so important in childhood development.

For some, it’s been almost a year since they were together with their team and for many it’s been much longer. Dozens of our programs were forced to take last year off from football or cheer because of COVID-19. The pandemic impacted so many areas of our lives – some more tragically than others – and the loss of fun that comes with playing a sport was felt by thousands of young people. 

Working with our Medical Advisory Committee and Pop Warner regional leadership teams, we will keep an eye on the ever-shifting nature of COVID-19 and ask our community to remain vigilant. But we are optimistic and excited that there is a return to normalcy for most. And that hopefully means turning the pre-season practices that have already kicked off into a full  season of play beginning as soon as this weekend.

Among the things we’re excited about as we head into the season are the evolution of PW Authentic, our Pop Warner uniform line that is making ordering custom-made apparel easier and less costly for our teams, and the extraordinary national championship week we’ve developed with our partners at Florida Citrus Sports.

The Pop Warner Super Bowl and Cheer & Dance National Championship will settle into their new home this December – Universal Resort Orlando. We think you’re going to love the competition venues with Camping World Stadium campus hosting football and the world-class Orange County Convention Center home to cheer and dance.

And, of course, Universal Orlando Resort is an award-winning vacation destination with three epic theme parks that feature some of the world’s most exciting and innovative experiences, and some spectacular resort hotels.

We hope you have a fun, safe and rewarding start to the season.

Warm regards,

Jon Butler

Contact

Pop Warner Little Scholars

P.O. Box 307 
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047

Phone: 215-752-2691
Fax: 215-752-2879

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