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Adult fail? 5 concussions in 1 Pop Warner game!

  • 5 children from same team concussed in football game
  • Coaches, referees punished for not stopping the action
  • Winning coach: 'This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment'
5 players on one team suffered concussions in a Massachusetts Pop Warner football game

It was 28-0 and at least three children younger than 12 years old had suffered a concussion.

Then the first quarter ended.

By the time the Southbridge Pop Warner football team was through with the Tantasqua Pee Wees, they had scored 52 points and knocked five opposing players out of the game with concussions.

The blowout should have been stopped on several occasions, according to Pop Warner's rules and player safety guidelines. But neither the Central Massachusetts Pop Warner referees, either team's coach or the association officials in the stands stepped in to prevent more damage from being done.

The teams went on playing until the final whistle.

Which is too bad, because the fifth concussion occurred on the game's last play.

A dad's take: Why my son will never play football

Nevermind the mercy rules that should have been invoked when the score reached 28-0, or the fact Tantasqua's injured children meant they no longer had the minimum number of players (16) required to continue the September 15 game.

The frightening outcome of the Southbridge-Tantasqua mismatch was little known until last Thursday, when Central Massachusetts Pop Warner conducted a hearing for the adults involved. After a four-hour meeting, the head coaches for both teams were suspended for the rest of the season and placed on probation for the 2013 season. The association's presidents were also placed on probation for 2013.

In addition, the league banned all three referees from ever working a Central Massachusetts Pop Warner game again.

Southbridge head coach Scott Lazo didn't agree with the ruling, insisting he didn't know that on the opposite sideline those injured players were being diagnosed as having likely suffered a concussion. "If you lost that many players, you should have called a timeout and come seen me," Lazo told The New York Times.

"My team is not dirty. All the issues were on their side of the field. This is a football game, not a Hallmark moment."

And if you're shaking your head at Lazo's reaction to five children suffering concussions in a football game, well so is Pop Warner Executive Director Jon Butler.

"I think both coaches should have gotten together and just said, 'Hey, that’s it. We’re done for the day'," he told NPR. "Both coaches should have been more aware of the situation, should have certainly been aware of the rules, and stopped the game long before it finished up."

The president of Central Massachusetts Pop Warner agreed that the adults in charge failed the players. "There’s an obligation to walk across the field and say, ‘This thing is out of hand,’ and nobody did that," said Patrick Inderwish.

"Having multiple concussions in one game is something that should never happen, ever," he added. "One concussion is too many.’"

One parent at the game told that team staff with emergency medical training checked the children out after they returned to the sideline, but the concussions were not officially diagnosed until after the game.

All five children missed school time because of their injuries. However, all but one has already returned to the football field.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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