Friday Night Tykes
Miko Malabute | Wednesday, February 5, 2014
“You have the opportunity today to rip their freaking heads off and let them bleed,” Coach Charles Chavarria proclaimed to his football squad — the Jr. Broncos — in an attempt to pump his team up against the San Antonio Outlaws. “If I cut them with a knife, they’re gonna bleed — red — just like you.”
Even just the preview clip introducing the new mini-documentary series “Friday Night Tykes” on Esquire Network will shock upset and offend the unsuspecting viewer for the way Chavarria was addressing his team full of eight- and nine-year-old boys playing football. This viewer will roar about how the children’s innocence is being shredded to pieces and the fun of the game is being sacrificed in favor of an unhealthy, insatiable desire apparently evident in the harsh and scary reality of Texas youth football. Finally, posts questioning the humanity of these coaches and how they treat these young children will flood the comment section.
And this will all happen after viewing just the first 12 seconds of the clip.
However, right after that, Chavarria goes on to say, “You go out there like Jr. Broncos, you play Jr. Bronco football, and you can do it. If you believe in yourself, you can do whatever it is you want to do in life! But do it now!”
This small glimpse essentially encapsulates what this series is all about: an extreme, harsh, no-nonsense coach utilizing a Spartan approach to football to instill life values into young boys. Those values seem to be winning at all costs and playing with a “healthy” sense of bloodthirsty competition.
Viewers of the series will hear each coach say it over and over again — the children bring them back. The coaches cite the responsibility they accept in being father figures to these boys — many of whom have no father to look up to — as the largest reason that they are out there on the field, pushing each of the kids as hard as they do. Even the casual viewer will claim this is anything but the truth.
Yet, countless reviews of the series deem “Friday Night Tykes” a nightmare horror series that should be considered unfit for television.
Viewers, both the general audience and notable entities like the NFL, have expressed the concern they have over the screaming coaches brutally pushing the boys and countless instances of the boys’ — albeit, extremely scary-looking — helmet-to-helmet contact. However, in the series the children’s parents are fully behind their children’s coaches, often even telling their children not to cry, to toughen up and to simply be better.
A deeper reflection would allow us viewers to understand and maybe even sympathize a bit with the coaches. Not to defend all of the actions of the coaches — especially because a 40-something-year-old man intimating that he would cut a team full of children with a knife is so not acceptable — for the way they treat their players, but I am of the belief that if there was really a genuine reason for alarm, that these coaches would not be coaches for a youth league.
My friend’s father likened our generation to a microwave, saying that we are desperate to “get hot quickly.” To me, “Friday Night Tykes” epitomizes this idea, as parents and coaches alike — no matter how flawed their approach to the children — want to see these kids become men of success, and by doing so hopefully ride their coattails all the way to NFL money and fame.
The show may come off as unnerving, unsettling and frankly quite unreal. But if each of us were to take a step back, we could begin to see every Tuesday night that if wishing success for these children — albeit for selfish reasons — is a crime, then to a certain degree, we are all guilty.