“You have the opportunity, today, to rip their freakin' head off, and let them bleed,” is how Esquire Network promoted its new show, Friday Night Tykes, an obvious spin-off of the wildly popular Texas high school drama that aired on NBC.
The 10-part docuseries will follow five teams in the Texas Youth Football Association from the 8- and 9-year-old rookie division. The show will air on Jan. 14 at 9 p.m. ET on the Esquire Network.
Watching the initial sneak peek, it's tough to see this show as anything other than Hard Knocks ... for kids. Esquire claims the show will “offer insight into why they believe they're teaching valuable lessons about discipline and dedication, but also grapple with serious questions about parenting, safety, and at what price we're pushing our kids to win."
Gauging the themes from the opening sequence, the show will largely focus on toughness, emotion, overcoming pain, and more generally, teach the benefits of aggression.
At one point one coach says, "I don't care how much pain you're in, you don't quit." Perhaps this coach should be reminded how a running backs coach at Frostburg State University is being sued after allegedly admonishing a player who was hesitant to return to a particular drill despite bleeding from his forehead. That player, Derek Sheely, died.
Another coach implores a kid to “put it in his helmet. I don't care if he don't get up.” That is evidently what some elite youth football coaches in Texas are telling kids.
These are not unlike the themes playing out in the locker rooms in the NFL. It's not hard to connect the dots between stubbornness, brutal physicality, disregard for pain and bullying.
Esquire, for its part, has a chance to shed significant light on this topic, particularly how parents in elite youth leagues deal with the possibility of child concussions. However, the initial preview seemed to glorify massive hits, not unlike what used to be shown on NFL highlights shows, prior to the league's $765 million concussion settlement.
The jury is still out on the show, but be assured that people will tune in, if for nothing else other than the shock value of seeing youth football players treated like NFL professionals.