Controversial mercy rule has football parents angry

Published On: Sep 23 2013 07:20:02 AM HST
SUTTER, Calif. (KCRA) -

The Northern California Federation Youth Football League changed its so-called mercy rule this season to prevent teams from winning by large margins.

A winning team that violates the mercy rule will now face stiff penalties.

“It’s not hurting the kids, it's teaching them compassion for the other team,” said Robert Rochin, the deputy commissioner for the league. “It’s teaching them sportsmanship."

If a team in the league, which has players between the ages of 7 and 13, wins by 35 points or more, the coach gets a one-week suspension and the team gets fined $200.

Last year, teams that broke the rule got a warning and had to submit a letter explaining what they did to keep the score low.

Some players and parents said the more aggressive mercy rule is hurting the team and the players' development.

“Now they are afraid their coaches are going to get suspended and they are not going to have a coach to come out here and play football,” said Kelly McHugh a concerned parent.

McHugh’s son is the kicker for the Sutter Huskies and said the rule means her son isn't doing as much on the field.

“I can’t kick field goals or practice my field goals,” said James McHugh, 13.

Some parents said the mercy rule also puts players who are holding back at a higher risk of injury.

“The kids who are in the position of trying to protect their coach are backing off and are at a higher risk of being injured,” said Brent Moore, the father of a player on the Sutter Huskies.

But league officials said that last year they recorded more than 30 mercy rule violations, which is why they chose to stiffen the penalties.

“We lose a lot of football players because their teams lose so badly,” said Rochin. “If they are constantly getting beat, who wants to play anymore? We lose kids all season long because of that.”


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