Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


Friday Night Tykes or Frights?

posted by Linda Mintle

child footballHere we go again. Toddlers and Tiaras, Dance Moms and now Friday Night Tykes. Yes, one more installment in the reality TV genre that leaves the viewer wondering if entertainment involves watching children being screamed at with profanity, then humiliated and embarrassed in order to motivate them towards some parent’s idea of greatness.

When I watch these shows, I see adults bully and emotionally abuse kids. This is not entertaining, it is sad.

Friday Night Tykes moves the positive side of sports to the dark side. For example, kids are told to rip off the heads of their opponents, hurt them with intentional fouling, and go for the helmets (banned in the NFL). Keep in mind these are kids under the age of 10.

Yes playing sports can build self-esteem, leadership skills, coordination, fitness, and cooperation, but when the method of coaching involve humiliation and overly aggressive tactics, kids can be physically and psychologically harmed. The line is crossed.

Humiliation of a child when his/her sense of self is in a state of developement does little to build esteem. It has the opposite effect. And why would any parent want a bully as a role model for their child?

Speaking of parents, a mother of one of players put it this way in Episode 2, “When your kids look bad, you look bad.” How sad that the child is expected to meet his mother’s expectation of greatness to make her look good. What about his needs? When he fails to score, makes a mistake, will he be stressed, anxious and worried because he is making his mom or dad look bad? Do we really want to put this burden on a child? In therapy, this is a negative dynamic called parentification of children –children expected to meet the emotional needs of their parents. It’s the child’s needs we are to be meeting as parents.

And when you push a child too hard and force him to play beyond any enjoyment, you create rebellious, resentful, insecure kids who can become depressed and anxious. So parents, ask, is this what your child really wants to do? Is the way the child is being coached instilling the values and leadership skills you desire? Is your child being taught skills? And is your child so talented that you would push him at any cost? What will this do to your relationship with your child? Does he have to win your affection through high performance?

Coaches should also be held accountable. These are not mini adults they are whipping in to shape for a Superbowl. These are kids who can be psychologically damaged by their profanity, berating and shaming. Kids whose physical bodies are still growing and can be damaged by concussions and broken bones when too much aggression and unsafe practices are used.

Friday Night Tykes is not entertaining. It is pathetic and irresponsible.

In an age when bullying is center stage, why would we give bullies a stage?

Time to call a time-out! Better yet, turn off those Friday night lights.



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