2 youth football teams benched after parents scuffle

2 youth football teams benched after parents scuffle

VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - It was the big day for hundreds of pint sized football players in Vancleave. Saturday's youth football Super Bowl was finally here for the young people to compete.

"It takes a combination of 11 different leagues all being on the same page," Youth League President Jessie Peterson said.

Two teams were noticeably absent; the five and six-year-old White and Gray Jacket teams from St. Martin.

It's not because of their actions, but football officials say some of their parents got into a brawl earlier this week in the parking lot outside a game.

"Parents were told if they got into any altercations, they would be disqualified, and still they got into altercations. I broke up a few fights this season from parents, and it's pretty sad," parent Jeremy Harlan said.

Although several parents felt it was harsh to ban the young players from the Super Bowl and even met with Mississippi Gulf Coast Youth Football League officials, the punishment remained the same.

"Our main concern is safety for our kids and an example we are setting for our young men celebrating the game. Not the violence in the stands," Peterson said.

Some parents said the move was a tough call to make.

"It is a hard decision for anybody, but they made the right decision. If the kids don't see consequences on the actions of their parents, they are going to grow up and may think they don't have consequences themselves," Harlan said.

Others say knowing the players ended up being the real losers in this whole mess is just sad.

"I feel sorry for the kids at the end of the day, because they are the ones who are most affected by this whole situation. I hate that it happened to them because they tried so hard. One of the teams was undefeated. Now, they are going to miss out on the championship rings, so I feel real bad for the kids," St. Martin Youth Football Association board member Gerald McGee said.

"I think it was a handful of bad parents that ruined it not only for their children, but the rest of the kids. It was not an organization thing. It was a handful of bad people, and it is very sad the two teams that should have been here can't," St. Martin Youth Football Association board member James Bennett said.

Some parents who didn't want to get on camera said they refuse to let this issue die, because it was unfair to the kids. Supporters of the St. Martin Mini Gray Jackets are also considering hosting a party Sunday to celebrate the kids' efforts on the field.

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