A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Friday Night Tykes spotlights youth football leagues and showcases the competition and drama that play out during the season. As with any reality series, the goal is to entice viewers, so personality clashes between kids and among adults get as much screen time as does any game. At any given point in the show, parents can be seen screaming at coaches or officials, and teammates take their frustrations out on each other verbally. Strong language is the biggest concern ("damn" and "ass" are audible; "f--k" and "s--t" are edited), even from kids. While unsportsmanlike, argumentative, and downright childish behavior -- usually on the part of the grown-ups -- dominates the show, there are some moments that celebrate the small victories in team sports and individual performances, and a few coaches stand out as positive role models both on the field and off.
What's the story?
FRIDAY NIGHT TYKES is a reality series that follows players, coaches, and parents in competitive youth football leagues around the country. From Texas, where football is a way of life, to Pennsylvania's steel country, where the gridiron is a great equalizer for players from diverse backgrounds, the show chronicles the players' lives, the teams' ups and downs, and the coaches' efforts to capture that coveted championship.
Is it any good?
If you're not already familiar with the caliber and intensity of youth athletics, then this dramatic series is a real eye-opener, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Your tolerance for the content really depends on which side you favor in the discussion over competition at a young age, and if you don't arrive at the show with an established position, you'll find the arguments skew heavily toward the tough-love approach. The pressure these kids shoulder from their coaches, their parents, and themselves rivals that of your favorite professional athlete, and it takes an obvious toll on them. On the other hand, facing this kind of adversity teaches them self-discipline, teamwork, and perseverance, though it's much harder to find examples of this more positive effect of competition.
As with any reality series, it's important to remember that a season's worth of practice, game, and personal-time footage is trimmed down to mere hours of actual screen time designed to accentuate drama as much as possible, so in all likelihood not every minute of these kids' lives is dominated by football and expectations of winning as the show would suggest. Even so, unless you're a die-hard believer in this winning-is-everything mentality for kids and tweens, Friday Night Tykes is very tough to watch in spots, especially when parents and coaches are the ones who lose perspective (and their cool). The focus on youth football is sure to draw some kids, but watching with them will allow you to temper what they see and monitor the strong language that's prevalent throughout.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about competition. Kids: Do you enjoy sports? What can be learned from matching your skills against a competitor's? What lessons do you learn from winning? From losing?
How do the subjects of this reality series reflect the diversity in America? What common factors unite all of us regardless of where we come from? Could there be a time when we are truly equal? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing?
Were you surprised by the language on this show? Do you think it's appropriate for kids and tweens to hear this kind of talk from their authority figures? Does it motivate the players? Would it motivate you? Would it be acceptable in your home or around your friends?
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