Teary Eyes, Small Hearts: The Little-League Horror Show of Friday Night Tykes

Via: Tuned In

“Mama, mama can’t you see / What the Broncos done to me?” –team chant of the Jr. Broncos, Texas Youth Football Association On Sunday, America will celebrate its largest communal sacrament, the Super Bowl. Even as most of our mass-media rituals have gotten smaller, the big game has stayed big and become even bigger business. But the sport of football has become publicly troubled lately, with controversy and litigation over concussions, questions about what the game is doing to players, and doubts about whether the practice and culture of the game can be fixed. You can employ technology and education, but the expectation that brutal hits and bodily sacrifice are part of the game–a noble, character-building thing, even–start early. How early? That’s the subject of Esquire’s worthwhile but disturbing docuseries Friday Night Tykes (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET), where kids on the proudly “competitive” TYFA league in San Antonio run sprints in the blazing sun until they cry and throw up, where they get told “I don’t care how much pain you’re in, you don’t quit!” and where they take coaching orders like “I want you to put it in his helmet. I don’t care if he don’t get up.” All at eight or nine years old. Like Toddlers and Tiaras or Dance Moms, this series about competitive kids comes with a creepy feeling of complicity, with the added realization that we are watching kids risking more than just their self-esteem. But while FNT is depicting something ugly, if not downright abusive, it’s not celebrating it. It’s shot cinema verité, no head-shaking narration, which allows it to present a more rounded, multidimensional picture of what can lead a group of grown-ups to believe they’re putting tiny kids through misery for their own good. And it lets the brutal hits ring out clearly, as well as the brutal message. The first message: TYFA’s kids are not here to play, they’re here to win. That means, for the several teams FNT follows through the season, maybe you sign up and never get to

Read full story at: Tuned In

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