You have probably read a lot already about the new reality television series, Friday Night Tykes (FNT) which premieres tonight on the Esquire Network.
Like many of those who have weighed in so far, I am troubled, to put it mildly, about what it says about youth football, San Antonio, Texas-style. [For some of what I think, watch tonight's "Inside Edition"]
But I also see educational value in the show because, in so many ways, it provides a perfect example of precisely how NOT to run a youth football program. I think the best thing I can do to enhance your viewing experience is to provide you this companion guide to alert you to just some of the safety issues raised in the first two episodes that Esquire made available to the press, and provide links to related MomsTEAM content so you can decide for yourself how the way the folks in San Antonio run their program matches up - or, in almost all cases, doesn't match up - to how we at MomsTEAM think a youth football program should be run, one which puts winning first, and one which puts safety first, and let you be the judge about which one you would want your child or grandchild to play in.
- Kids, at their very first practice, play in full pads and helmets in 99% heat.
- When they are overcome by the heat and begin throwing up, they are told to quit crying, put their helmet back on, and resume practicing.
- Kids do not take water breaks in shade.
- Football Players At Greater Risk of Heat Illness
- Pre-Season Heat-Acclimatization Guidelines
- Preventing Heat Illness During Summer Football Practice
- Modify or Cancel Games or Practices In High Heat or Humidity
- Heat Illnesses: Basic Information
- Kids told to "rip their [opponents'] heads off."
- Kids told that if their opponents' "heads fall off, so be it."
- Coach tells players, "If you slam them to the ground, oh well."
- Head-to-head helmet contact is routine
- Proper Tackling Reduces Risk of Catastrophic Injury Says Ex-Pro
- Football: Injury Preventive Tackling Safety Education and Training
- Seven Ways To Reduce Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury In Sports
- Kids told to keep playing even if get "bell rung" and crying
- Coach expresses view that if he lets player stop because of injury, you "weaken" him; kids need to just "shake off" injury
- Player returns to practice 2 days after taking a "bad hit" in practice; mother wondered why he didn't want to play X-Box
- $16,000 spent on new uniforms; manicured fields, concrete stands, but no athletic trainer or health care professional on sideline.
- Coaches: Improve Concussion Safety By Creating Safe Environment For Athlete Self-Reporting
- Coaches Can Play Important Role in Encouraging Athletes To Report Concussion Symptoms, Studies Find
- Honest Self-Reporting of Concussion Symptoms Critical
- Concussion Recovery Begins With Both Physical and Cognitive Rest
- More Conservative Approach To Concussions in Children, Teens Recommended
- Gradual Return To Play After Concussions Recommended
- Athletic Trainer Plays Critical and Unique Role in Concussion Safety
- Coaches screaming, swearing at kids
- Coaches teaching kids to use profanity [January 30 update: The coach who led his team in a chant that used an expletive toward an opponent was subsequently suspended by the league for the infraction for the six-game spring football season).
- Coaches threatening kids with physical harm if don't do what told ("I'm going to hurt one of y'a")
- Coach tells players, "I don't care how much pain you are in."
- Coach says he could "care less" if players cry
- Players forced to run laps as punishment
- Abuse in Youth Sports Takes Many Different Forms
- Stop Youth Sports Who Bully By Recognizing Techniques They Use To Avoid Blame
Winning versus having fun
- Coach says "Whatever it takes [to win] - I don't care who plays, even if same 11 [play every week]."
- Son of team's General Manager sits out both of first two games; seen hanging his head; mother doesn't says he doesn't understand what he did wrong, not having fun.
- Equal Playing Time: Should It Be The Rule, Not The Exception?
- Having Fun and Skill Development As Important As Winning in Youth Sports
- Having Fun More Important For Most Kids
- Fun Is Still Number One Reason Kids Play Sports
- Ten Signs of a Good Youth Sports Coach