Pee Wee Football League
American Youth Football (AYF) or Pee Wee Football was established back in the 90s with the aim of promoting the development of young players under the guidance of their partners in the adult leagues.
Over the years the Pee Wee Football league gained popularity and due to this, it is firmly established throughout the 50 states of the USA along with 6 other countries. It has gained over half a million participants over the year and became the National Youth Football partner of the American NFL.
AYF is known to accept participants without any prejudice due to their financial standing. AYF doesn’t intervene much in the matters of the local members and allows them to govern themselves. To aid in the development of the young players the AYF provides them financial grants, Nike sponsored shoes and development of pitches by partnering with FieldTurf.
Some of the famous NFL players who work with Pee Wee Football league are Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, along with Chris Collinsworth and NFL coach Pete Carroll.
# Requirements to be a Participant in the AYF
AYF doesn’t want its participants to neglect the importance of education in their lives. Therefore, they demand their participants to focus on their studies and to enforce this a player’s progress through their academics is monitored. Only the player who performs well in their class is allowed to participate. This also requires them to produce proof from their schools. If a participant is performing brilliantly in their school as well, they are given special awards along with scholarships.
The Pee Wee football leagues are divided into two categories:
Junior Pee Wee: A participant of Junior Pee Wee football league needs to fulfill the following physical criteria to become eligible to in the play in the league. Their age should be between 8 and 10 years. Some 11-year olds are also allowed on the basis of weight. The players should weigh between 60 and 115 pounds with relaxation to 119 pounds at the end of the season.
Pee Wee: The Pee-Wee league allows players whose age is between 9 and 11 years to participate with 12-year olds being allowed on the basis of weight. The players should weigh between 75 and 130 pounds initially and 134 pounds at the end of the season.
# Pee Wee Rules & Drills
– Pee Wee Rules: Similar to the senior league, the Pee Wee football leagues also have a set of rules and guidelines to ensure that the game is played in a fair manner. Here are some of the important rules related to American Youth Football.
- The regional committees are responsible for handling the required paperwork of the teams before the first game of the regional tournament takes place. The paperwork is required to checked thoroughly in order to confirm that no team which is not legally qualified for the tournament reaches the AYF National Championship.
- The conferences are required to send the details of the divisions and team levels that they are going to send to the tournament by 15th of September.
- Regional Committees are supposed to meet to set the tournament brackets before the end of September.
- The committees need to send the details regarding the tournament bracket to the AYF before 15th of October.
- If an association fails to participate in the tournament after committing to their conference will be suspended from the next year’s post-season play which will include the regional and AYF National Championship.
- Any team that wins the regional championship and advances to the National level and refusing to travel will to the championship will be disqualified from the following year’s play.
The incidents will be reviewed by the National Commissioner before passing the judgement.
– Special Rules for Pee Wee Rules:
- Field etiquettes suggest no Bull Horns.
- Mercy Rules: 5 touchdowns or 35 points, whichever is achieved first.
- If there is a conflict related to jersey the officials will make the final decision.
- Head Coaches are responsible for their staff and fans.
- If the AYF has not acquired the non-team volunteers as Chain Crew, the home team needs to provide them.
- The football coaches are supposed to complete the “Tackle Sure” Online Course.
# Controversies Related to the Pee Wee Football
There have been a lot of controversies regarding the safety and brain health issues in the Pee Wee Football Leagues.
In a study conducted by VA Boston Healthcare System along with Boston University’s school of medicine in 2018 discovered that the tackle football is related to an earlier occurrence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in participants below 12 years in age. The symptoms weren’t that serious though.
The study looked through the record of 246 players who used to participate in the games and found that 211 were diagnosed with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) after their death. On studying the case of those who were diagnosed with CTE revealed that players who started to tackle football before the age of 12 years showed the symptoms almost 13 years earlier than those who didn’t.
Another study result published in the Austin American-Statesman, Dr Michael Reardon, Child Neurology Consultants of Austin said football results in repetitive blows to the head over the course of time which results in a higher level of impairment when compared to athletes participating in sports like basketball or volleyball. He said that junior level football the seriousness of the issue is a lot more as most players don’t have completely developed neck and shoulder muscles to reduce the impact from the tackles.
The helmet which only protects the skull from getting fractured results in players developing a sense of invincibility and this increases the risk significantly.
# Conclusion: Football (not to be confused with Soccer) is one of the most popular sports in the United States and almost every kid dream of participating in the senior leagues one day. The Pee Wee Football leagues provide an opportunity to these kids to play football just like the actual professionals do and hopefully play the senior division at the end. Not only this provides them with the experience but other opportunities in the form of scholarships and award to help them achieve success when they grow up.