You’re an eight-year-old playing your first season of peewee football. You’ve never scored a touchdown in your brief, little life.
All you want in this sweet world is to catch a football and run into the end zone. That’s the only instinct humming around in your tiny body.
This was the extent of one youngster's impulses when he caught a pick-six in the fourth quarter of a recent peewee game and the resulting touchdown earned his team a $500 fine.
In a story that would make Roger Goodell slaver at the mouth, a Georgia peewee football team is facing fines and a coaching suspension after breaking a league-ordained mercy rule.
CBS 46’s Mike Paluska (h/t Andy Isaac) reports that the Lawrenceville Black Knights were winning 32-0 in the fourth quarter when eight-year-old Elijah Burrell caught an interception and took it to the house.
The resulting touchdown put the team over the 33-point mercy rule limit and triggered a $500 fine and an automatic one-week suspension for Elijah's coach.
Elijah's mother, Brooke Burdett, maintains that her son had no idea he was breaking any rules when he scored his first peewee touchdown.
“We were all super excited, [Elijah] was beyond excited and we were fined for it,” Burdett told Paluska. “[Elijah] had no idea [he was breaking a rule]. This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an eight-year-old boy making a pick-six.”
Chando John, a mother of another Black Knights player, says there’s no way they could have stopped Burrell from scoring.
“How do I explain to an eight-year-old kid that your coach has been suspended because your teammate unintentionally scored?” John asked. “It’s hard having an eight-year-old in flight to think of everything everybody has said, other than I need to make a touchdown.”
At risk of joining the wussification of America saber rattlers, it’s clear that league rules ruined a good thing in this case.
Elijah now finds himself on the receiving end of the James Harrison treatment for the crime of doing everything he was told to do. As for the rule itself, I have less a problem with mercy rules than I do with the fact there are player-triggered fines in the constitution of a youth recreation sports league.
This isn’t New Orleans. No one gets an extra juice box for taking out knee caps. There isn’t a fixer in the top of the five-row portable bleacher rubbing his greasy hands as the Purple Geckos cover the spread against the Blue Dragons.
Don’t fine the kids. Don’t fine the team. Send an email and ask for the coach to "maybe try" to get their kids to score less, and get on with life.
Don’t ruin football for eight-year-olds. They have the rest of their lives to learn to hate pointless fines.
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