The Term “Midget” Up For Debate In Football League

August 22, 2011 / Football
MyNorthwest.com, Seattle, Josh Kerns


For decades, the term ’midget’ has been used as an age designation for youth football leagues nationwide. But when a local coach appeared on the Dori Monson Show to complain about what Little People of America calls “The M Word,” it triggered a flood of complaints and threats to one local league.

Craig Pannell coaches the Silverlake Timberwolves in Snohomish County. He says the rival coach launched a one- man media campaign without ever expressing his concerns to the league.

“You know, it’s youth football and we’re just so focused on getting the kids ready to play a great game, that word never even crossed anyone’s mind as derogatory,” he said.

Pannell says the league doesn’t even control the use of the term, which is designated by a regional governing body. And he says now they’re being unfairly hit with angry emails, some even threatening violence.

“This has caught us blindsided and all the publicity and hate that has been directed at us has been out of control,” said Pannell.

The complaining coach told Dori he took to the media after seeing Silverlake on the schedule, because he has an infant niece with dwarfism.

“You know, two years ago I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But my extended family has figured out what dwarfism is, what being a little person is, so it becomes something we’re much more sensitive to,” he said.

But Pannell says the coach should have been more sensitive to the impact on the dozens of kids and parents in his league.

“There’s a lot of hurt feelings, a lot,” Pannell said.

The coach says some parents are even considering pulling their kids off the team, fearing the negative impact on them from the incident.

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