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Mercy rule, fines for running up youth football scores sparks outrage

Dori was outraged by a new youth football policy in California, and was shocked to find similar things go on here. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The outrage is growing over a new mercy rule in California that would suspend and fine youth football coaches $200 if their team beat another team by more than 35 points. And after blasting it on his show, Dori heard from a bunch of listeners who complain the same kind of thing is happening here.

Dori didn’t hear any official reports of local coaches receiving fines, but he did get confirmation they’re expected to make moves to curb their team’s achievement.

“It’s basically the same idea, if you’re up over 28 points, you need to stop scoring unless the other team scores,” said Chris Garrod, a former official in a youth football league on the Eastside.

But Dori points out letting up can be hard and even potentially dangerous for players.

“I saw video from this California league where a kid who was off to the end zone, he deliberately slowed down and let kids tackle him from behind, it struck me, and his dad too, who was furious, that that’s just a prime way for somebody to get injured.”

Garrod said that kind of play could definitely be dangerous, but most coaches don’t wait until the last minute to make adjustments. Most will be aware a blowout is coming and make changes early.

“Really, it’s something that you’re looking at the whole game, so if you’re half way through the first half and you’re totally dominating the other team, you’re already making changes,” says Garrod.

In his league, when a team was totally trouncing their opponent, coaches might swap the offense with the defense and encourage the kids to call their own plays, “just like you’re playing in a neighborhood field.”

“They want to win, but they don’t have to win by such a high level,” said Garrod.

Garrod said coaches are typically pretty respectful of scoring caps and he doesn’t agree imposing fines.

“The coaches, the people that run the leagues, everybody, they’re all volunteers. Most of them are parents. They’re there to help out. All the coaches and stuff are really there to help out their kids while they’re playing. They’re doing fundraising all year long trying to just get by.”

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