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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Trophy Kids is a documentary connected to an HBO Sports series called State of Play produced by Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg. The expanded movie follows up with several of the families featured in the series, which focused on parents who micro-manage and obsess over their children's interest in a competitive sport, sometimes to astonishing extremes that make the parents lash out at coaches -- and even their own kids. The parents in the documentary are incredibly volatile and often yell expletives ("f--k," "motherf--ker," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.) during games or matches, occasionally at their kids. Also a couple of crass comments.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Never withholding the harsh reality of the matter, showing how certain parents push it just too far.
What's the story?
TROPHY KIDS is a documentary that compiles/expands on three stories that were first featured in executive producer Peter Berg's HBO Sports series State of Play. The film follows five sports-obsessed parents who will stop at nothing to propel their child athletes into superstardom (or, at the very least, Division I scholarships). Two fathers have invested tens of thousands of dollars into their high-school-basketball-playing sons; one mother believes she has a covenant with God to help her twin sons be the no. 1 doubles players in the nation; one middle-class father sees dollar-sign potential in his young golfer daughter, even going so far as to call her the next Tiger Woods; and one former athlete father enrolls his son in an elite private school to play with a top football program and then criticizes him after every practice or game. The filmmakers chronicle how the intense pressure -- and parental expectations -- affects the kids.
Is it any good?
Trophy Kids is a fascinating, compelling exposé of the extreme lengths parents will go when they truly believe their kids have what it takes to be not just a good athlete, but an extraordinary one. One father quit his job to focus on his son's basketball career and admits that he's spent the equivalent of "two Lamborghinis" on the boy's personal training and elite teams. The former college ballplayer forces his freshman son to practice plays and study videos of upcoming opposing teams after regular football practice. The divorced dad also berates his kid and calls him a "mama's boy" and a "woman" because he was primarily raised by his mother.
More than just a documentary, Trophy Kids is a cautionary tale about how not to parent. With the possible exception of the religious mother who believes her twins are destined by God to be tennis champions, the parents are all abusive toward coaches, referees, and in some ways even their own children. The father of the junior golf champion (who calls her a "little bitch" behind her back when she swings poorly at a tournament) tells another parent that he wishes it were like the 1970s, when parents could push kids as far as they wanted. In an age when stories routinely circulate about parents being barred from games (it happens in the documentary, too) and bullying coaches, Trophy Kids is a reminder to keep calm and remember that no matter how intense your child feels about a sport, it's still a game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of sports documentaries. Do you need to know anything about (or even like to play) football, basketball, tennis, or golf to enjoy Trophy Kids? Why or why not?
What did you think about the relationship between the parents and their kids? Which parent-child dynamic seemed the healthiest? Which seemed the most in need of help? Do you think anyone featured in the film could change -- or would want to?
Which behavior in the movie would you consider bullying? Is the impact of bullying different when it's done by an adult rather than a kid's peer(s)?
One parent says the key is to have a kid "buy into" a parent's "dream"; is that the way sports involvement should be decided? What are the odds of kids succeeding in professional sports? Should that be the end goal, or is having fun more important?
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