The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 12, 2013

Concern for youth sports

On March 2, 2012, the NFL announced that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had set up a "Bounty Program" and close to 30 New Orleans Saints players were involved. It was reported that there were many attempts to cover up the scandal, including attempts made by head coach Sean Payton.

Across the NFL, there was an outcry for suspension to stop these actions in professional sports, but why is there no reaction to these behaviors in youth sports?

My concern is that youth coaches say the same things as pro coaches, such as "Take him out!" or "Knock his head off!" These phrases are encouraging the same actions that the professional athletes were suspended for doing.

I personally have experience with this issue as I play three contact sports -- ice hockey, football and lacrosse. I know that stakes can be significant in high school sports as I play varsity ice hockey, and I can remember countless occasions of my coaches telling us to "neutralize" a skilled opposing player.

Even worse than the coaches are the fans and what they yell. Parents of kids on the field are yelling the same comments as the coaches, and that's to injure the "stud" on the opposition. In most cases, parents of both teams are intermixed in the stands.

I think these parents need to remember the player being head-hunted is somebody's child.

If people want to prove a point in stopping such bounty programs, they need to start with the youth. Professionals make money as it is, but youth athletes are expected to perform such actions free of charge. There is only one difference between professional and youth bounty programs, and that is the pros get paid and the children do it for free.

Nick Conrad,

Selinsgrove Area High School

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