Dangerous bounties move to kids’ leagues

Here’s something we hope doesn’t become a pattern.

Two youth league rugby coaches have been suspended from their league after they were caught offering bounties to their under-14 players for giving hits that would take their opponents out of the game. The story comes from the ABC affiliate in San Francisco, which reports that players in the Raptors rugby club were offered from $20 to $30 for a hit that sidelined an opponent. The practice was discovered when the parents of an opposing player overheard a Raptor player calling to his coach after a hit, “How was that coach? Is that good enough for the money?” Coach Wesley Van Tonder and his son, Wes Jr., have been suspended from the league for three years.

Most disturbing of all is the fact that the coaches seem to have been inspired by the NFL New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, in which the team’s defensive coordinator paid players cash rewards for hits that injured opponents. Apparently the rugby coaches learned nothing from the fact that the NFL took unprecedented disciplinary action against the team, suspending the defensive coordinator from the league indefinitely, and suspending the Saints’ head coach for a season.

The Saints’ behavior, combining malice, improper motivations by leadership figures, and actions meant to cause long-term damage to opponents’ off-field lives, were about the worst case of bad sportsmanship professional sports has ever seen. It should have been easy for a youth coach to see that this was not a coaching choice to imitate.

Photo: Kids play rugby. By Flickr user kelsey e.

 

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