Inside Slant: 'Friday Night Tykes' fallout

February, 6, 2014
2/06/14
2:45
PM ET
Last month, I wrote about the debut of "Friday Night Tykes," a ridiculous Esquire Network reality show based on a youth football league in Texas. The opening sequence featured a coach endearing his players -- who are 8 or 9 years old -- on the virtues of ripping off their opponents' heads in order to draw blood. The episode continued with a disturbing mix of violent imagery and head injuries, and frankly I haven't watched another minute since.

The NFL and its youth football arm, USA Football, both expressed public misgivings about the show. It appears the governing body of the league depicted in the show is catching on.

Last week, the Texas Youth Football Association disciplined two coaches who star in the show, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The coach from the opening sequence, Charles Chavarria, was suspended for the rest of 2014 because he taught his players how to injure opponents. (In a more recent episode, Chavarria encouraged players to hit the ear hole of opponents' helmets.)

The second, Marecus Goodloe, was suspended for six games for encouraging profanity.

It's important to reiterate that the genre of "Friday Night Tykes" encourages and demands outrageous behavior. The first episode was the most-viewed Esquire Network premiere to date, according to the Express-News.

And it's true, as some have suggested, that the making of the proverbial football sausage is not always pretty. But to me, what might be acceptable at the high school, college and professional levels isn't necessarily appropriate for third- and fourth-graders.

Children of that age might not be able to distinguish between metaphor and reality, and confusing those lines might suggest to them that hurting opponents is the primary goal -- rather than occasional consequence -- of football. They also might not know any better than to join their coaches in celebrating hits that cause head injuries, as some did in the first episode.

It didn't take long for the Texas Youth Football Association to take notice, and if the legacy of "Friday Night Tykes" is an unintended shift of values and mindsets, then so be it.

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