We might have finally reached the height of stupidity.
Eight year olds playing youth football last Saturday in Lawrenceville, Georgia, were fined $500 because they beat an opponent by too many points. The Lawrenceville Black Knights were routing Collins Hill 32-0 when Elijah Burrell picked off a pass and took it to the house, extending the lead, according to the Sporting News.
But there was just one problem – in this league, teams aren’t allowed to win by more than 33 points, or they face a fine, the report also said. How an eight-year-old is supposed to remember this while running back an interception, I’ll never know.
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“We were all super excited, he was beyond excited and we were fined for it,” Elijah’s mother, Brooke Burdett, told CBS46. “He had no idea. This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an 8-year-old boy making a pick-six.”
Even worse, the rules also say that any coach who leads a team to a margin of victory beyond the mercy rule must be suspended one game for their actions, the Sporting News also reported. CBS Sports says the parents will all pitch in to pay the team’s fine.
Perhaps the obvious question is this: What’s the difference between getting your tail handed to you 32-0 or 38-0? I’d have to figure, thinking back to blowouts I endured in youth sports, that they’re both going to suck, so what does it matter?
Youth leagues should allow these kids to take their lumps and move on. Life’s only going to get a whole lot harder from here.
Of course, the league fought back and countered with claims that they don’t plan to fine or suspend the team for running up the score. Erik Richards, president of the Gwinnett Football League, told CBS46 the team is being fined $100 for mocking its opponent and other unsportsmanlike behavior. But the parents are adamant that the fine is due to the Black Knights’ mercy-rule violation, not the behavior of their sons.
I checked the GFL website to see if there were rules specifically forbidding teams to exceed a 33-point differential and found no such rule posted by the league. But there are many instances on the rules page where fines or suspensions are possible, so it isn’t far-fetched to think that the league would do this to a team that failed to keep a game close enough.
Either way, I think both sides need to man up. It’s football, not chess.
The Lawrenceville Black Knights are currently 8-0, according to the league’s website.