When USA football asked me to review the new Esquire docu-series Friday Night Tykes, I had no idea it would be so frustrating to watch. It’s not just another bad sports parents movie, it’s a statement about what some youth sports cultures in our country have become.
Filmed documentary style, FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES provides a glimpse into a competitive Texas youth football league for 8-9 year olds where participation medals mean nothing, and winning means everything.
Would you let your 8 or 9 year kids play for these coaches?
These coaches take their jobs very seriously. They are in it to win at all costs and they seem to have forgotten that these are little boys, not high school or college kids.
We are going to separate the men from the boys!!
We run plays like the pros, like the NCAA.
I am pissed off and I want the boys to be pissed off when they play.
This loss hurt because of all the work I put in; Today was the biggest day of my life. (Coach said after losing first game of the season)
Winning is the only option. If there’s no championship, then it was all for nothing.
Emotions are a female trait, don’t bring that on the football field.
That was classless, but I don’t care (said the coach after refusing to take a knee for the last play of the game and instead scoring another touchdown when they were already winning 25-0)
Would you let your kids play for coaches who:
- push kids until they puke and then push them some more
- start recruiting kids at 3-4 years of age
- insist that a team be built on swagger
- teach their team cheers like “whoo, whoo, F***the Rockets!”
- encourage kids to punish and hate players
Friday Night Tykes: Who’s to blame?
These Texas coaches–some of whom are likable guys apart from their coaching issues–are perverting the game of youth football. But I cannot lay all the blame at their feet. By simply standing by and watching, the parents are just as guilty. They support and allow this sports league to prosper. If they stood up for a pure, positive and healthy youth sports experience, if they defended their kids’ rights to not only have fun, but work hard and yet still be kids, these coaches would be out of jobs.
All I kept thinking as I was watching was: These are only little boys!
If this was high school kids, it would be a bit more tolerable, even if it isn’t ideal. But these are children who are being forced to act like adults and it leaves me wondering just how many of these boys will stick with the game and how many will quit because they were burned out before they reached high school.
I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this docu-series is but unless it motivates parents and coaches to provide a positive, safe, and fun–and yes, character-building–experience for their own kids, then it is a wasted project. Otherwise, don’t waste your time watching.
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