Texans run defense for 'Friday Night Tykes' youth football culture

Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:18pm EST
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By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - To many Americans, "Friday Night Tykes," the new TV show about youth football, is coaching that teeters on the edge of child abuse. But to its fans in Texas, it's just a way of life.

Football looms large in the Lone Star State, and putting children as young as 7 through gut-wrenching gridiron drills also serves to toughen them up and prepare them for life, defenders of the youth league say.

"'Friday Night Tykes' is a docu-series that provides an authentic glimpse into a highly competitive youth sports experience in Texas," said executive producer Matt Maranz.

The show that premiered last week on the Esquire Network, bills itself as an inside look at the "emotional fans, obsessed parents, and passionate coaches" of the Texas Youth Football Association (TYFA).

Its January 14 debut drew 428,000 viewers, making it one of the most-watched original premieres for the new Esquire Network, while still relatively small when compared with established cable networks that attract several million viewers.

The series follows several teams of 8- and 9-year-old boys from initial practice sessions through games in the highly competitive world of Texas youth sports.

Football mom Lisa Connell said she wants her son, Colby, to learn the meaning of competition.

"We were done with everybody gets a trophy, everybody wins. We wanted him to understand the value of working hard and the reward that comes with that."   Continued...