Rap singer Snoop starts a dog-fight as he makes a bid to be in a league of his own

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The Independent US

When he gets bigger ideas and decides to begin his own league, however, the cheering gets a little less unanimous.

Ask Snoop Dogg about this. He won new fans and friends when two years ago he volunteered to be a "daddy coach" to the Rowland Raiders, a school team in Orange County, California.

His sons were old enough to join the team, in the Orange County Junior All-American Football Conference. The Raiders, with his elder son at quarter-back, drew bigger crowds and began to win most of its games.

But now the team is in slow meltdown, as is the league, because of what infuriated parents are describing as a dastardly end-run around them performed by Snoop Dogg. He created his own league last month, calling it the Snoop Youth Football League.

Parents in the US - fathers especially - take their children's sports immensely seriously and they don't react well when someone messes with their routine.

They are especially upset in Orange County because the field that Snoop is playing on seems tilted in his favour. Kids are defecting to his league in droves.

How can they resist, when Snoop doles out gifts, like fashion clothes, and promises rides on his new league bus? No ordinary charabanc, it is kitted out with television screens to watch rap videos (and play-backs of the game, of course) and a sound system that pumps out his songs.

When Snoop was one of the Raiders' coaches, they had nine squads of five- to 14-year-olds. Now there are three. And it is not just the boys who are leaving for Snoop's new league, so are the girls. The Raiders used to count on about 80 willing cheerleaders. Today they have nine. "I think what [Snoop] did is just so shallow," Sandy Gonzales, who has two sons in Raiders squads, told the Los Angeles Times. "He came here just so that he could take away ... what we'd taken many years to establish."

Snoop's league has eight teams in southern California but he's talking expansion. And while some claim sabotage, his answer is that he is only trying to help by giving kids something to do other than land in trouble. "It's so easy for a kid to join a gang, to do drugs. We should make it that easy to be involved in football and academics," he said.

He points out that while some children could not afford the $175 needed to join the original league, his charges $100 instead. If a second child from the same family joins his league, they are charged only half price. Everyone gets shoes and pads for free.

There is no denting Snoop's enthusiasm meanwhile. Next week will see a special fund-raising night with performances by Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There is even a film coming out starring the rap star, called Coach Snoop.