Albuquerque is the latest community struggling to address increasing violence at youth football games.
New Mexico’s Young American Football League held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss an alarming increase in violence.
A youth football coach told KOB4 that he has seen plays that sent young players to the emergency, and that coaches were encouraging these plays and swearing at players. The coach asked to remain anonymous.
"Other coaches may not be teaching techniques that are up to date and used to help protect kids,” he said.
Beyond rough play, the coach said that referees’ lives have been threatened, and fights are breaking out between coaches, parents, fans and players.
The coach also referenced and incident that was caught on tape, where a player kicked another player in the head while he was down. The player that was kicked had to be sent to the hospital. The video was later sent by the offending team to the coach who spoke with KOB4 and was accompanied by a threatening message.
"It was actually video taken from a parents' social media account saying this is what happens when you play us," he said. "They sent this video to our kids, saying they can't wait to play us because this is what's going to happen to them."
Coaches and a league official said the league has struggled with these problems for years.
"They've been reactive instead of proactive," the coach said. "There's been a gradual decline in the integrity of the game or safety of players, techniques being taught, it's become more and more about wins and losses."
NMYAFL released the following statement in reaction to the concerns:
"There have been recent incidents regarding poor coaches and parent/fan behavior at our NMYAFL games. This behavior has recently affected the integrity of our game and the safety of our youth who participate as players. NMYAFL is committed to ensuring our youth are able to participate in football and cheer competitions safely. The league board of directors will be meeting with all head coaches for a mandatory in-person meeting to address this issue directly. Each coach will be reminded of the Coaches Code of Conduct policy and a zero tolerance of unsportsmanlike behavior by the league going forward. Each head coach will be required to hold a parent meeting to discuss the Parent and Player Code of Conduct policy. Each head coach and team will be required to acknowledge before resuming games. NMYAFL is dedicated to providing the youth an opportunity to participate in a program designed to build leadership skills, character and good sportsmanship."