Trophy Kids

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Trophy Kids Movie Poster Image
Searingly honest docu about sports-obsessed parents.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The adults' iffy behavior sends the clear message that parents shouldn't try to live vicariously through their children's sports achievements -- and that there's a fine line between pushing a kid and abuse.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the adults are examples of how not to act as a parent. They're all obsessed with their children being the best and being nationally ranked as athletes. Many yell/curse at their kids; one dad berates his son as a "mama's boy" and a "woman" because the boy was primarily raised by his mother.


One dad is so loud and aggressive toward his teen son that the son starts crying -- more than once. The boy even gets out of a car in order to get away from his angry dad. Another dad yells expletives at coaches and referees.


One dad makes a comment about how his 15-year-old son has a girlfriend only because "girls will only let boys do stuff with them if they call you their girlfriend."


The parents curse a LOT, saying everything from "f--k" and "motherf--ker" and "s--t" to "a--hole," "bitch," "d--k," "p---y," and more -- sometimes directed at their kids. Only one parent, a devout Christian, refrains; the others can barely contain themselves.


Sports gear like HAX, Under Armour, Head; cars like Toyota, Lexus, Chevy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byjess t. October 5, 2016

Ego driven Society..Hiding behind Religion

I think All parents should watch this...It shows how the Ego driven Parent abuses their children to feed their own ego and to hide their own insecurities they f... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDrSoup007 January 22, 2016

Never withholding the harsh reality of the matter, showing how certain parents push it just too far.

Documentaries are hard to judge, because the majority of my likening for a film comes from it's writing and acting, and documentaries have none of that. Wh... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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