Football Teams Update

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We’ve got a lot more information about the Pop Warner fight at the All-Star Music Resort than we had last week. In the incident, the Westport Patriots of Baltimore got into a fight with the Kahalu’u Hei’eia Broncos of Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii and the Waianae Tigers of Waianae, Oahu, Hawaii. A Disney cast member familiar with the situation informed MousePlanet that the All-Star Music front desk received a call at around 11:45 p.m. Friday night that there was an altercation at the arcade, and that there were 90-100 teenagers involved in a serious fight. There were reports of adults hitting kids. Three security guards and a security manager responded and broke up the fight after midnight. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office was called and deputies interviewed participants to try to determine how the incident started. Due to conflicting stories, no charges were lodged. All of those involved were sent back to their rooms. The members of the three teams involved were all disobeying the Pop Warner “quiet hours” curfew that began at 10 p.m., as noted in a Disney information packet sent to all participating teams.

Around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the fight started again in buildings 3 and 6, with approximately 100-110 people involved. The front desk was called by families not involved with Pop Warner, claiming that it was close to riot conditions and that they wanted to check out immediately to get away from the situation. Sheriff’s deputies, along with Disney security staff, stopped the fight again. One boy from the Kahalu’u team had his nose broken and went to the hospital. There were no other reported serious injuries.

Pop Warner football commissioner Sam Mutz and others from the organization were called to the scene. After evaluating the situation, Disney and Pop Warner made a joint decision at around 2:20 a.m. to evict the teams from the resort, rather than ban them from Disney property entirely. With about 140 people in total evicted and 100-110 involved in the fracas, there were perhaps only 30-40 people who had to be woken up when the decision to evict them was made.

The Pop Warner representatives called around to find alternate lodging for the teams, and found space at the Legacy Grand and Holiday Inn. Disney paid for the teams to be transported to their new lodging. They had a fleet of cabs lined up, and the last cab left just before 5 a.m.

The situation was apparently anticipated by the Pop Warner organization, as a packet sent out months ago to participants in the tournament included a memo from Pop Warner Executive Directory Jon C. Butler to all Pop Warner Association, League and Regional officers that warned:

As Pop Warner’s events grow and attract more media attention, each of us has a duty to make sure that ALL of the people at those events represent Pop Warner appropriately.
We’ve had serious behavior problems at past Pop Warner Super Bowls at WALT DISNEY WORLD. This note gives you and your participants, young & old, players & coaches, parents & fans fair warning that such problems have not been tolerated in the past, and certainly will not be tolerated this year. Teams have been disqualified, and, in one case, sent home early at their increased expense.
Every Pop Warner Association is accountable for its players, cheerleaders, coaches, administrators, parents and others from your area at all Regional and National events. Any incidents of unacceptable behavior from any person(s) affiliated in any way with your Association will mean:

  • A possible immediate ejection from the Pop Warner Super Bowl events and WALT DISNEY WORLD® property. The persons involved risk forfeiting hotel and other deposits. Revised Air reservations/ ticket payments will be your problem, not ours nor Disney’s.
  • Possible lifetime ban from Disney World.
  • An AUTOMATIC PROHIBITION from all Regional and National events for all teams/squads from that Association for one full season.
  • Possible suspension and/or probation from coaching or administering within Pop Warner.

Each Association is responsible for those who represent it. So is each League. So is each Region. If repeated problems occur within a particular Association, League or Region, additional measures will be taken.
Pop Warner is a family. Let’s all act like it. If our Pop Warner family behaves well, then everyone—whether part of Pop Warner or not—will respect us.

This was echoed in a statement from Walt Disney World spokesman Jacob DiPietre, who said, “This incident was unfortunate but with thousands of Guests at the Resort we have to maintain a safe environment for everyone. We have a no-fighting policy that is shared with Pop Warner. Anyone fighting is subject to disqualification from the competition and eviction from the resort. We were in contact with both law enforcement and Pop Warner throughout the event.”

With both sides telling conflicting stories, it’s unlikely that the true cause of the fight will come to light. It appears that the altercation started between the Westport and Kahalu’u teams, with the Waianae team coming to the aid of its Hawaiian compatriots. The Westport team had won the Midget Division II Warner Conference title earlier on Friday. The Kahalu’u squad took the Midget Division II Tomlin Conference consolation title on Friday, and the Waianae team was finished on Wednesday, having lost both of its games in the Midget Division I playoffs. The Midget teams were composed of youths approximately 12-15 years of age.

One of the Westport coaches told the Baltimore Sun that he was upset that the fight overshadowed the team’s win. “It’s unfortunate that it had to happen like this,” he said. “It’s getting me down. We work hard to keep these kids out of trouble and now this one moment is going to dominate the entire season.” Despite the organization’s Web site noting that “Pop Warner is committed to developing America’s young people on the field and off,” it seems that some coaches still believe off-field behavior takes a back seat to on-field results.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]