New Mexico's Young American Football League leaders are meeting Wednesday evening to discuss an alarming increase in violence.
A youth football coach KOB 4 spoke with said he has seen plays that sent young players to the emergency room, coaches encouraging those violent plays and even swearing at the players. He said he wants to remain anonymous for his own safety, but the well-being of these young players is his number one concern.
"Other coaches may not be teaching techniques that are up to date and used to help protect kids,” he said.
He said this has escalated to a point where referees' lives are threatened, and fights are breaking out between coaches, parents, fans and players.
There are also concerns about rough plays. One video shows a kid getting thrown on the ground. The other player kicks his head as he walks away. The coach we spoke with said the teen on the ground ended up in the hospital. He also said the violent team in the video sent it to his players with a threatening message.
"It was actually video taken from a parents' social media account saying this is what happens when you play us," he said. "They sent this video to our kids, saying they can't wait to play us because this is what's going to happen to them."
Coaches and one league official said this has been a problem for years, and the meeting happening Wednesday to address this violence should have happened a long time ago.
"They've been reactive instead of proactive," the coach said. "There's been a gradual decline in the integrity of the game or safety of players, techniques being taught, it's become more and more about wins and losses."
He also gave a reason why the league’s rules have not been enforced in the past.
"Sometimes YAFL has turned a blind eye to infractions because of the people who are committing the infractions,” he said. “So YAFL needs to take and make an attempt to clean up the game and to have zero tolerance, no matter who's violating, and actually enforce their rules that they themselves have set up."
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