The Northern California Federation Youth Football League changed its "mercy rule" this season, imposing hefty fines on teams that beat others too badly, a local television station reported.
If a team with players between the ages of 7 and 13 beats another team by 35 points or more, the coach will suffer a one-week suspension and the team will face a penalty of $200, KCRA reported.
"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."
Some parents say the rule goes too far.
"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," Kelly McHugh, whose son is a kicker for Sutter High School, told the station.
"I can't kick field goals or practice my field goals" said 13-year-old James McHugh.
League officials said they stiffened the penalties because too many coaches were violating the rule without consequence.
"We lose a lot of football players because their teams lose so badly," Mr. Rochin said. "If they are constantly getting beat, who wants to play anymore? We lose kids all season long because of that."
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