Esquire launched its TV channel in the fall, and it might have the show that any new network needs for generating buzz and attracting eyeballs. If the trailer for Friday Night Tykes is an accurate representation of what the 10-part documentary series will tackle, it should provoke plenty of thought about how youth sports ought to be approached.
The series, which premieres Jan. 14, profiles five teams of 8- and 9-year-olds from San Antonio in the Texas Youth Football Association, and as you might suspect, the footage is heavy with adults screaming about what it takes to be a winner. Example:
"There should be no reason why y'all don't make other teams cry. I could care less if they cry!"
There is a fine line between building character and toughness by fighting through adversity and what is just plain old abuse, and hopefully the series can take a measured look at a complex topic:
"I don't care how much pain you're in -- you don't quit."
As usual, and as HBO also spotlighted in State Of Play, the role of adults and how they conduct themselves is a central theme. One coach tells a player to hit an opponent in the head, then adds:
"I don't care if he don't get up."
Additionally, with more and more parents thinking twice about allowing their kids to play football because of the growing evidence linking concussions with brain disease, it is worth noting that during the 90-second promotional clip, there are two helmet-to-helmet hits that would draw fines in the NFL.
"The trailer is definitely troubling to watch," an NFL spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
The spokesman also told the Times that the league featured in Tykes is not part of its Heads Up Football Program, a safety-inspired initiative for youths.