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Last Chance U
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 the football documentary series Last Chance U contains lots of mature content, including cursing, references to drug use, violent behavior, and other issues. There's some rough game footage, and minor injuries are sometimes visible. There's lots of yelling and a brawl between players. Beer drinking is also shown. The show also raises issues about going to school to play football versus prioritizing education.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
LAST CHANCE U is a documentary series that follows a season with the East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) football team. Thanks to head coach Buddy Stephens' tradition of recruiting players who struggled at, or were dismissed from, a NCAA Division I university due to lack of discipline, bad grades, drug problems, and other issues, players like former Florida State quarterback John Franklin III, former Florida State wide receiver Isaiah Jones, and former Virginia Tech safety C.J. Reavis are playing for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I school. They join talented local recruits who come from troubled backgrounds or have learning challenges but who want to improve their lives by playing professional football. Under Stephens' tough, no-nonsense coaching, the players struggle to make the most of this last chance to advance in the sport while helping EMCC win another championship. But under the close, watchful eye of athletic academic advisor Brittany Wagner, they must also work to minimally pass their classes to graduate and be Division I-eligible.
Is it any good?
Last Chance U is a gritty, honest, and well-produced behind-the-scenes look at the way a champion junior college, or JUCO, football team works to win games and stay on top. It shows how the NJCAA serves as a launching pad for players looking for a way to transition into Division I football when they don't always have the maturity or academic ability to immediately do so. Underscoring all this is how JUCO football has become big business and how coaches and staff must somehow balance the need of the team with the individual learning and mentoring needs of each student.
The scenes between coaches and players, as well as the lengthy coaching and game scenes, will appeal to football fans. But some may find the attitudes of the players, whose life experiences have led to a complete disinterest in learning anything in the classroom, troubling. Others will be struck by the attitudes of the coaches and the academic advisor, who think practically about their ability to do schoolwork while helping them grow up enough to do what they must to move on in the sport. Even if you are not a football fan, you may find the details of this slice-of-life look at the game interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the reasons young people go into sports. Many of the players featured here believe that football is their only chance to improve their lives given their situations. Do you believe this is true? What are some of the drawbacks of relying on sports to build a better future? Benefits?
Why do you think a documentary was specifically made about the East Mississippi Community College team? What kinds of things did you take away from it?