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Toxic Fans, Coaches Force Early End to Pop Warner Season

Andy Berg
Nathan Shively Mg Ipnc8 Tg1c Unsplash

A pair of Pop Warner teams in Oregon are being reprimanded for what league officials say was a toxic environment, noting in an email to families that they will not service games for the two teams. 

The Mid Valley Pop Warner and Mid Western Officials Association said in an email to families that it would preemptively end the league’s season on Oct. 24.

"An unprecedented number of games were called early this season, threats of violence were made against officials, multiple coaches were suspended for on-field conduct and an overall environment of poor sportsmanship permeated many of our sidelines and stands,” the email states. “All of this culminating in a vote last week by the Mid Western Football Officials of Oregon to discontinue service to MVPW for the remainder of 2021."

MWFO said in a statement to MVPW that it had identified two teams that were at fault, including the Lebanon D2 Warriors Red and another team from Dallas, Ore.

Parents and coaches for the D2 Red Warriors Red team said the allegations were false.

"I've been to every game. There's never been any bullying, any violence or threats," parent Brianna Garber told the ABC affiliate. "The coaches have been nothing but respectful."

Lebanon head coach Justin Dodge said he was disappointed with how Pop Warner handled the situation.

Parent James Prater has two kids on the D2 Warriors Red team. He said referees were not being fair at games and it led to booing at stands.

"Getting into kids faces and telling them you can't play," Prater said. "You can't do this. Stop being a scoring play, the minute there was contact before our kids can go snatch the ball and make the touchdown. At the game we were exceptionally mad but there were never threats of violence. There were boos from the stands because it was obvious what was going on. At one point, I screamed, 'Are we playing two teams out here?'"

Amid game cancellations, Pop Warner offered a registration discount for players returning next season.

"There's going to be kids moving on from Pop Warner next year," said Dodge. "Those parents deserve a refund. They don't deserve 'you're not going to get your money back when you're not going to be here anyway.'"

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