Today kicks off the 2018 Pop Warner Super Bowl at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the exciting finale of the organization’s 90th football season. Known as the nation’s oldest and preeminent youth football organization, Pop Warner has provided youth athletes with the opportunity to play, learn and grow from the sport for nearly a century.
This year’s week-long tournament features over 60 teams from around the country competing for the national champion title in various divisions. In celebration of their 90th anniversary year, we wanted to share some fun facts about the organization and its history with Disney!
- The organization got its start in 1929 in Northeast Philadelphia as a way to get local teenagers involved in an athletic program, so a four-team Junior Football Conference was formed. In 1933, a local clinic was scheduled for top college coaches to speak to almost 800 athletes. Due to inclement weather, the only coach to show was Temple’s head coach Glen Scobie “Pop” Warner, thus the youth program was renamed the Pop Warner Conference.
- The first National Pop Warner-Disneyland Bowl Football Festival, now known as the Pop Warner Super Bowl, was held in 1959 in the Holidayland area of Disneyland. In 1969, the game was moved from Anaheim, California to Orlando, Florida as a prelude to the opening of Walt Disney World. From 1971 -1980, the competition had a couple of name changes including the Walt Disney World-Pop Warner Football Festival and the Pop Warner – Walt Disney World Bowl. Since 1997, the Pop Warner Super Bowl has been played at the current ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
- In 1960, Walt Disney Productions produced a two-part television episode entitled “Moochie of Pop Warner Football” broadcast on ABC as part of Walt Disney Presents. In the second part, From Ticonderoga to Disneyland, Walt Disney appears in a cameo role when the team wins the First Annual National Pop Warner Disneyland Bowl game.
- Today, there are over ten million alumni of the Pop Warner Football program. The National Football League Players Association estimates that between 60-70% of all NFL players began their careers playing Pop Warner Football.
- Pop Warner Spirit teams have participated in the organization for many decades on the football sidelines but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Cheer and Dance Program was officially recognized. The first National Cheer and Dance Championship was held in 1988 and the event celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
The 2018 Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships starts today at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Want to watch all the action? Spectators can purchase single-day admission for $18.50 (ages 10+) or $13.50 (ages 3-9), or a length-of-tournament pass for $55.50 (ages 10+) or $40.50 (ages 3-9). Not able to make it in person? Select games will be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN App.