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About Pop Warner

Pop Warner - Committed to developing America's young people on the field and off!
Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS) is a non-profit organization that provides youth football and cheer & dance programs for participants in 42 states and 7 different countries around the world. Consisting of approximately 325,000 young people ranging from ages 5 to 16 years old, PWLS is the largest youth football, cheer and dance program in the United States. Pop Warner was founded in 1929, continues to grow and serves as the only youth football, cheerleading & dance organization that requires its participants to maintain academic standards in order to participate. Pop Warner's commitment to academics is what separates the program from other youth sports around the world. As the only national youth sports organization that requires scholastic aptitude to participate, Pop Warner is committed to developing America's young people on the field and off. Each year Pop Warner continues to expand its efforts in team and activity participation, as well as visibility and outreach in the community. Since 1929, the Pop Warner Programs Philosophy has been that athletics and scholastics go hand in hand. At every level, Pop Warner programs seek to develop well-rounded young men and women who learn not only the fundamentals of football, cheerleading, and dance but also the importance of education in an atmosphere conducive to developing sound character while having a good time.

Pop Warner VS AYF

POP WARNER: PWLS is entering its 88th season in fall 2017 and had established programs in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. Pop Warner administrators and coaches have years of experience and are committed to working with children. Everyone in Pop Warner plays under the Pop Warner rulebook which establishes a standard set of guidelines that all programs must follow. Pop Warner has an Age/Weight Matrix that every program follows from the first game through Regional and National Playoffs. All of Pop Warner's forms and other program information are available for anyone to view on Pop Warner rules incorporate a scholastic requirement for all players to participate. Pop Warner also recognizes top scholars from around the country through its All-American Scholar program and National Scholastic Banquet. Pop Warner has also given away $1.35M in college scholarships since 1993. Pop Warner's Super Bowl National Cheer Championships are held at Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fl. and partners with Disney to provide a memorable championships experience for all participants and their families

AYF: AYF was established in 1996. AYF has no national rules and allows each League to set their own rules. AYF allows each league and association to set their ages and weight allowances for league play yet mandates that teams change their ages/weights to compete in AYF Championships. Most Leagues participate in a grade based / unlimited weight division AYF has general information regarding their programs on the AYF website. They claim to have organizations in all 50 states, yet there is no League Finder page to verify where AYF programs exist. Many pages on the AYF site are password protected. AYF has no scholastic requirement or banquets to recognize outstanding scholastic achievement. 2010 AYF Championships were held at a county park, Austin Tindal Park in Orlando, FL and National Cheer Championships were held at Silver Spurs Arena in Orlando.

Pop Warner - Objectives

  • To encourage and increase youth participation in football, cheerleading and dance.
  • To ensure a safe and positive playing environment for all participants.
  • To instill life-long values of teamwork, dedication and a superior work ethic in the classroom and on the playing field.
  • Pop Warner- Positive Experiences.
  • Pop Warner programs have no tryouts or cutting of rosters.
  • Everyone participates under mandatory rules of play.
  • On-field coaching is allowed for younger age levels.
  • Individual awards are given only for academic excellence, not for on-field activities.
  • Pop Warner -Safe Playing Enviroment.
  • Players are matched by age and weight levels.
  • There are strict mandatory equipment requirements.
  • Pop Warner provides Coaching Clinics and Risk Management Training.
  • An enforced national rule book incorporates time-tested rules.
  • A full-time executive staff supports all local associations and assists in sound policy creation


Pop Warner programs have no tryouts or cutting of rosters. Programs in 42 States & 6 Countries – Pop Warner Little Scholars has active programs in 42 states and 6 different countries. To view a list of these locations, please use our League Finder to locate the program closest to you. If there currently isn't a program in your area, and you would like to form your own league in Pop Warner, please complete and send in our Charter Application. More than just athletes! – Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS) is the only national youth sports organization in America that requires its participants to perform adequately in the classroom before permitting them to play. We believe that the standards we have set give these children a sense of responsibility and an appreciation for academics and athletics that will help them develop later on in life.
"Little Scholars" – Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. (PWLS) is the only national youth sports organization in America that rewards its members for their outstanding performance in the classroom. Each year, the most academically accomplished Pop Warner kids compete for Academic All-American status, and are rewarded on several different levels (I.e. National, Regional, League, etc.).

Stability – Heading into our 88th year, Pop Warner Little Scholars is the oldest national youth football and cheerleading organization in the world. Founded in 1929 by Joe Tomlin in Philadelphia as four-team conference, we now have over 130 leagues and over 380,000 members. It's Inexpensive – Signing up for Pop Warner Football, Cheerleading or Dance is inexpensive. A typical registration fee for each participant ranges from about $175 to $200 for the season, depending on your local area. Please note, registration fees are set by each local program and what is included varies from program to program. Pop Warner National Championships – Each year, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. hosts the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships. For the past 11 year, the event has taken place at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex ™ in Lake Buena Vista, FL during the second week of December. More than 300 cheer and dance squads and 64 football teams compete for the right to be crowned Pop Warner National Champion. National Scholar Banquet – Pop Warner hosts an awards program each year to celebrate the accomplishments of our participants. Scholarships are awarded and we recognize those that have contributed and served as exemplary ambassadors for Pop Warner. Nationally, we select First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention All-Americans and award scholarships for higher education to the most deserving students in our highest grade levels.

Mandatory Play Requirements – Everyone participates under mandatory rules of play. Each league may set a higher number of Mandatory Plays, but never less than the minimum set by PWLS. All MPR's should be based on eligible players at the time of the game. Age-Weight Structure – Kids compete with kids of similar age and size. We set and enforce a strict AGE & WEIGHT MATRIX that reduces the risk and reality of injuries. Volunteers & Coaches – We have over 40,000 volunteers and coaches that are being trained every year to offer the best and safest programs for you and your children. It all starts here – The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) estimates that between 60% and 70% of all NFL players began their careers playing Pop Warner Football. View a list of all alumni . Pop Warner programs nationwide are required to annually conduct a Background Checks–of Coaches, Board of Directors members and any other persons, volunteers or hired workers, who provide regular service to the league and/or have repetitive access to, or contact with, players and/or spirit participants. The purpose of these background checks is, first and foremost, to protect the children.

Football & Cheerleading Camps – Pop Warner offers several nationwide FOOTBALL CAMPS and CHEERLEADING CAMPS for our members at low costs. Safety, Safety, Safety! – Kids compete with kids of similar age and size. Pop Warner is the ONLY youth football program (local, regional and national) that sets and enforces a strict AGE & WEIGHT MATRIX that reduces the risk and reality of injuries. Did you know that Pop Warner football is safer than soccer? Pop Warner football has 12% fewer injuries per capita among 5-15 year olds than organized soccer in the same age range! National Rule Book – Each Pop Warner Region, League and Association receive free National rule books for their organizations. Administrative Manual – Each Pop Warner Region, League and Association receive free National Administrative Manuals, designed to keep each League and Association current on all administrative matters, as well as to facilitate the daily operational management of those local organizations. NFL Youth Football Partner – Pop Warner is a proud NFL Youth Football Partner. Pop Warner programs are eligible for Travel grants, organizational grants, and facility grants through this great relationship.

Coaches and Adult Codes – All coaches, football and spirit participants must abide by a Code of Conduct which includes several provisions. If any of these rules are broken, the League shall have the authority to impose a penalty Free Online Roster Program – Pop Warner offers a free online roster program to all of our members to roster their participants easily and effectively. We surround ourselves with the best – Pop Warner is proud to have numerous outstanding sponsors , licensees , fundraiser's and partners who offer several amazing opportunities to our programs. FREE HELP and DISCOUNTS – Pop Warner sponsors and partners such as Spalding and Bike Athletic offer free equipment and uniform merchandise as part of a grant program for new organizations as well as those in financial need. Pop Warner partners also offer Pop Warner only discounts and rebates on merchandise such as footballs, cheer and dance apparel, fundraising items. Competitive and Affordable Insurance – Pop Warner offers low-cost, broad insurance coverage as a benefit to its members. The Plan is specifically written to meet the needs of Pop Warner Little Scholars. The Pop Warner Insurance Committee, in conjunction with its Broker, periodically reviews the cyclical insurance marketplace to obtain the broadest possible coverage at the most competitive price.

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