Texas Youth Football Association Coaches Suspended
The Texas Youth Football Association is shocked, shocked to find that coaches of 8- and 9-year-old players — who participate in tackle football, with no limits on size of players, in spring and fall leagues — have coaches who advocate violence and profanity.
Charles Chavarria, suspended for all of 2014, and Marecus Goodloe, suspended for the TYFA spring season, are bearing the brunt of the rawness of Texas youth football portrayed in “Friday Night Tykes,” the Esquire Network’s “docu-series” focusing on San Antonio teams in the most competitively supercharged youth football league in Texas, which means it’s probably the most competitively supercharged league in America.
Both coaches have apologized for their actions — Chavarria, for uttering such phrases as “If that kid comes across, I want you to put it in his helmet! Do you understand? I don’t care if he don’t get up!” and Goodloe, for having a potty mouth. But the real regret may eventually be TYFA’s, for allowing cameras in to see what a lot of coaches and parents in its orbit consider normal become reflected to a wider nation as borderline (or over-the-line) child abuse.
Even before the coach’s suspensions, the NFL expressed its concern about the level of violence (especially head-to-head contact) shown in the program, and the National Athletic Trainers Association castigated the Esquire Network for “providing a platform for the blatant disregard for player safety.”
Parents and TYFA officials have done various interviews to defend the league and the coaches in “Friday Night Tykes,” saying that the show isn’t the whole picture on the TYFA experience, and that the coaches do the right thing in pushing kids harder, at an earlier age, to be better football players and people.
Personally, I find the show sometimes hard to watch, but it’s riveting. In my experience, not all coaches are like the worst of Chavarria and Goodloe — but having coached 8-year-olds, and felt pressure (real or perceived) to win and/or develop talent, especially when wins are hard to come by, I can see how it’s easy to slip if you aren’t careful, and don’t have the self-awareness to reflect on what’s most important (as in, not winning titles) in coaching kids of single-digit ages. (In the most recent episode, Chavarria’s wife and kids have left him because he’s chosen to spend what little spare time he has coaching kids who aren’t his, rather than spend those moments with the kids, and wife, who are.)
TYFA, on its web site, still has a photo link promoting “Friday Night Tykes,” and discussions are under way for a second season after the initial 10-episode run is complete (five have been aired as of this writing). However, the more episodes that air, the more TFYA isn’t sure all publicity is good publicity. From KENS-TV in San Antonio:
League president Brian Morgan said halfway through the season, there’s mixed emotion about whether there will be a sequel to all the drama.
“I don’t think we necessarily have any regrets of doing the show, but I think maybe going forward we’ll have some reservations of doing a season two,” Morgan said.
The reservations are coming because what once seemed normal now, through the television looking glass, looks awful. One phrase that is repeated often in “Friday Night Tykes,” by coaches and parents, to explain the sport’s many cruelties is: “It’s football.”
What TYFA — and anyone in organized football, including the NFL — fears is that, in a time when participation in the sport is declining, a television series that shows 8-year-olds thrown into the football sausage grinder is going to make “it’s football” less of a statement, and more of an epitaph.
Courtesy of Bob Cook