Head of California youth football league defends mercy rule

The commissioner of the California youth football league who was criticized after reports about the league's tough penalties for coaches who disregard the mercy rule defended his position Wednesday and said despite some recent hate mail, the rule will continue to be enforced.

Bill Fox, the commissioner of the Northern California Federation of Youth Football, told FoxNews.com that any coach who runs the score up by 35 points or more will be suspended for a week of practices and one game.

"When you see these kids line up at the end of the game to shake hands, there's nothing worse than seeing how devastated these children look who just lost by 50 points," he said. "A win is a win. At this age, there's no reason to run up the score."

To be sure, there is heated debate about the merits of a mercy rule. Those in favor of such rules say talented players are taught sportsmanship and losing players face a softer blow to their confidence. Those opposed to these rules say teams should compete from the beginning of the game to the end regardless of the score.

The teams in this league are comprised of players between the ages of 6 to 13 years old from various towns in the area. They play from August through October. There are playoffs and an eventual championship game is played each year. There are no individual awards like MVP or Most Improved Player.

Fox called earlier news reports that state the teams are fined $200 erroneous. He said there never was a $200 fine for violating the mercy rule.

"Bottom line, this is about players having fun," he said. "Not an ego trip for a coach who has a talented team."