I barely got through the 43-minute premiere episode of Friday Night Tykes. After finishing it, I had one thought: The coaches and parents featured in this reality TV series are in dire need of psychological help.
The next statement will lead many reading this to call me soft. Or weak. Or some other insult. Go for it.
What takes place in the Texas Youth Football Association is child abuse. Nothing more. Nothing less. The series, which runs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Esquire (159, 1159 on Time Warner and 380 and 1380 on AT&T U-verse), will follow the season of assorted teams in this San Antonio, Texas, youth league for 8- and 9-year-olds.
And there is a whole lot of projection going on. Coaches who never realized their athletic dreams. Parents enabling them as they hope that their little giants blossom into the next Brian Urlacher or Adrian Peterson and earn a college scholarship that hopefully opens the door to big bucks in the NFL.
Some little gems from some of those coaches:
“I don’t care how much pain you’re in, you don’t quit,” said one coach to a crying boy as their team practices in 99-degree weather.
“When that kid comes across, I want you to put it in his helmet. I don’t care if he doesn’t get up,” said another.
Brilliant. Positively brilliant.
There’s a common refrain echoing throughout the country. American kids are wusses. The country’s being feminized. These players are told that they’re not allowed to quit. If they do, they’re failures.
As much as I love football, when my son decided he didn’t want to play in the local pee-wee league any longer, I allowed him to finish the season and stop. He found his niche elsewhere and excelled.
The way these teams are coached represents nothing more than adults living vicariously through a bunch of innocent children. Having coached youth football for two years in this age group, I can safely say that what’s depicted here isn’t how it necessarily is or should be.
First and foremost, teaching proper technique and how to hit properly is the priority. Sportsmanship is a priority. Learning to play the game properly is a priority.
Winning? Not so much.
That comes at the middle-school level and above. And this was the reality from my experience: Eventually, gung-ho-don’t-be-a-wuss guy showed up wanting to coach, and when that style was revealed, the league promptly booted him. Coaches of that sort are little more than bullies. The difficult part? Deciding who’s worse — those kind of coaches or the parents who subject their children to it.
Olbermann zings Haslam
Say what you want about ESPN host Keith Olbermann, but he knows how to skewer those he believes deserve it. Oftentimes, it comes in such a fashion that there’s no way to resist laughing with him. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III joined a notorious group of people Wednesday night when the occasionally cantankerous Olbermann delivered a takedown of Haslam’s letter to Browns season-ticket holders regarding the team’s coaching search.
A few of Olbermann’s zingers:
“It’s a shut-up email from the current, future ex-owner of the Browns.”
“The Browns not only don’t have a coach — they don’t have a coaching rumor.”
Olbermann saved one of the most stinging statements for this line: “We are strongly committed to finding the right person to coach the Cleveland Browns.”
Replying as Haslam, he said: “And although I confess that some of the names on Mr. [Mike] Lombardi’s list have been difficult to find, if anybody knows the whereabouts of coach B.A. Strothers (G.D. Spradlin’s imitation of Tom Landry from the film North Dallas Forty), coach Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson’s coach from the TV series Coach) and Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino’s embattled leader from Any Given Sunday), please just reply all in the email.”
I’ll leave individuals to make their judgments regarding the veracity of Olbermann’s arguments. That he’s making them might validate what many fans and some members of the media who cover the team already have said: The Browns’ credibility has plummeted.
ABCs of the NFL
The Alphabet Network just might be looking to get back into the business of broadcasting NFL games, according to a report by John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal.
The NFL is shopping a one-year package of Thursday night games that would simulcast on the NFL Network, and ABC is rumored to be the front-runner. The price mentioned is up to $800 million, but that could change, given that the NFLN would still air the games.
ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., last aired Monday Night Football in the 2002 season. It then moved to sister network ESPN. What does it mean?
It shows the continued value of the NFL, but of bigger import to the owners, they get to divvy up more cash and potentially raise their TV revenue, beginning with the 2014 season, to $225 million. That’s before one ticket is sold. The league projects next year’s salary cap to be $126.3 million, according to reports. Do the math.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.