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HEE: Is pushing kids to the limit for a sport a bad thing

My first impression of the show were kids 9-10 years old bear-crawling on a football field until they vomited and I thought, that is really horrible. I was appalled and asked myself, how can coaches do that to kids?

The show was “Friday Night Tykes,” a reality show on Esquire TV, that highlights six football teams in a highly-competitive Texas Youth Football Association. The show is in its third season and depicts how coaches in the TYFA push their kids to the limits. This league has no weight limits like Pop Warner and has over 25,000 kids involved.

The league spans from Houston to San Antonio, north through Austin and all the way down south through the Rio Grande Valley. The kids range in age from 4-13 playing football in both fall and spring leagues.

As I watched more though I became more intrigued. The parents were really involved and the kids really excited about what they were doing. None of the parents complained that the coach was making the kids work so hard and instead of yelling at the coaches, they were encouraging their kids as they crawled on the ground. One mom went up to her son, who was puking his guts out and told him to not quit. Then it hit me. I got it. And I did a 360 on what I was seeing. This was no longer horrific to me. It was a thing of beauty and I thought Texas might be on to something.

Why Texas? Football in Texas is different. It’s not just a sport in Texas, it is a way of life and I am not saying that in a negative way. The NFL did a survey of where their players came from in 2014 and 585 players out of 1,128 players came from Texas. It is one of the few states where a high school football coach can be paid $100,000 a year to coach. The coaching stipends are near $16,000 in San Antonio.

How far should we push our young children? And is it good for them?

I think pushing young kids at a young age in sports is good for them in general as long as it is done right. At this point, with obesity rising in our country and many kids never seeing the light of day, we need to push more. I see a lot of kids in the valley who should be encouraged to get out more, but don’t do anything because their parents don’t want to get out of the house and push their kids to do more. I really think parents are afraid to push their kids nowadays.

I think schools and kids in general can learn a lot from watching this show. You take away the hype and the stupidity of the show and you have a show that is about parents and coaches pushing the kids to be the best they can be at an early age.

I can see it now, people yelling at me, but Vern, it’s wrong to yell at kids and make them do bear crawls until they puke!

Look, you will lose me on that point. There is a purpose to screaming and getting a team in condition. How many of you were in the military? I was. I was in the Navy and so I know there is a purpose for it.

People are saying right now, these are the worse coaches ever!

But I am going to go out on the limb and say the coaches depicted in the show are not all the coaches in TYFA. I have said this before. I think kids need to be pushed because they are not being pushed at home, so why not on the field?

So the coaches yell and make the kids get in shape. Is that a bad thing? After all, they are preparing these kids for a brutal sport. One that most of us enjoy watching on TV every Sunday, Monday and Thursday.

Parents are a bit overprotective of their children but in this Texas show, you don’t see too many of them complaining about how the coaches are treating their kids. Why is that? Well it could be because of the TV cameras, but I think it’s something else.

I think they know some of the coaches are doing the right thing. I think these parents see a value in pushing the kids to the limit. I think the families see that the kids have changed at home and are probably easier to handle and I will even say they are more disciplined.

Many of these families take football seriously and see that it could be a ticket to higher things for their kids.

I am on season one and during this season there are some bad coaches.

One coach in season one, San Antonio Colts head coach, Marcus Goodloe, was having his kids use the f-word on camera. This coach was on the championship team and he was suspended for a year for his behavior.

Another head coach, Charles “Rip Their Heads Off” Chavarria of the San Antonio Jr. Broncos, was suspended from TYFA for one year amid allegations of targeting kids. He would instruct his kids to take out players with head-to-head contact. That is wrong. That is terrible coaching.

Then there was the coach of the Outlaws in season one whose son was quarterback and was puking on the field and he told him to keep playing, “be tough.” That could have been signs of a concussion. That was bad too.

But even some coaches that teach the TYFA coaches said that the league is not all bad.

Dave Cisar is an outsider looking in and does coaching clinics with TYFA. He does coaching clinics for youth football organizations all over the country and played football at Texas A&M. He is the author of “Of Winning Youth Football.” He was upset by what he saw on the TV but eventually said that it’s not all the coaches you are seeing. He taught many of the coaches in TYFA and knows there are some great coaches teaching kids.

“I’m hoping you were as appalled as I was of the actions of several of the coaches featured in the show,” he said. I’m in the unique position of being an outsider who has worked with TYFA teams and clinicked almost 5,000 of their coaches back in 2012. I’ve also spoken with and interviewed Friday Night Tykes Executive Producer Matt Marantz.”

He said people should realize that this league is massive.

His point is that the mass majority of the coaches are doing the right thing and that TYFA teaches solid football.

One fan of the show said this, “Honey Boo Boo didn’t get a show by acting like everyone else. Some of these folks — especially the outlaw mom with all the ‘cheers’ — seem to understand that outrageousness is what gets the screen time. At least I hope that’s what’s going on.”

And I think this person is right. We are seeing what the producers want us to see. I have no problem with pushing kids at this young age as long as it is done right.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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