Friday Night Tykes Football and Adult-Sized Rage


January 26, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

Friday Night Tykes coach

Rip their freakin’ heads off. Coaching or just plain abuse?

Friday Night Tykes is a realistic if not hyper-kinetic look inside the frequently brutal world of Texas Youth Football. It premiered recently on Esquire television. This in- your-face reality show has a lot of what you’d expect. Hard-hits, high emotion, sweat, tears, a little bit of blood and a Texas-sized share of “motivational” coaching. Although, depending on what you consider to be motivational and coaching, it might just border on being verbal and physical abuse.

I’ll let you decide.

One of the league’s coaches who has been featured prominently in the first two episodes, Charles Chavarria, coaches up the Junior Broncos. He’s an adult. His football players are not. They are tykes, kids between the ages of 7-9.

Coach “C” prepared his players with the following inspirational talk before sending them out on the field. “You have the opportunity today to rip their freakin’ heads off and let them bleed.” Sensing he had the full attention of his pint-sized players, the Coach went on to make the following somewhat baffling but at-full-volume point, “”If I cut ’em with a knife, they’re going to bleed red, just like you!”

And then he capped it off with one more coaching maxim that no doubt would make legendary Coach John Wooden wince, “There should be no reason why ya’€™ll don’™t make other teams cry! I could care less if they cry!”

You tell ’em coach. There’s no crying in football, certainly not at age 7, 8 or the ripe old age of 9.

We’ve also been treated to exhortations from coaches and parents to “go for the kill,” to identify where the other player is hurt and “finish him off” and nearly had fisticuffs between parents and coaches over concerns like playing time and play calling.

youth players

Coach us up, don’t just tear us down.

And this is about the point where I took a breath and realized that the growing epidemic of adult violence in youth sports it’s not all Friday Night Tykes fault. In fact, if you have ever been to ANY youth sporting event lately, boys or girls, in ANY part of this country, verbal and even physical bullying, abuse and intimidation seems to be as much a part of the experience as the coin toss, national anthem or seventh inning stretch. And nearly all of this abuse, this rage, this “thirst” for violence and victory at all costs is happening off the field. And it’s coming from adults, parents and coaches who should know better.

In Canton, Texas, a 45 year-old father who was barred from attending his son’s future high school football games because he had shoved and cursed at other participants at past games, shot and killed the head coach. He later claimed he just couldn’t take what the coach was doing to his son’s promising football career.

In Athens, Alabama, a fight broke out between parents watching Little League baseball. Apparently, one parent took exception to what he saw as ‘heckling.” The result was a near fatal stabbing of the “heckler” who needed over 100 stitches to his face and back.

In Hamden, Connecticut, 47 year old Mark Picard, enraged that his daughter was benched for missing a softball game to attend her prom, struck Sacred Academy’s head coach 6 times to the back of the head with an aluminum bat. The coach nearly died. Mr. Picard apparently was concerned that his daughter Melanie’s sports scholarship was at risk.

In Florida, upset over what she saw as an unfair line-up change, a furious mother of a swim team relay member tried to choke the coach while hitting his head against the diving board. Her daughter was 7.

And recently, a father upset that his 8 year old son was benched for missing too many practices attacked the head hockey coach and choked him. He too, saw future pro glory for his son and blamed the coach for killing that dream.

parent violence

Gee, what’s wrong with attacking someone if I didn’t like the call. The American way, right?

Geez, talk about parents who need more than just a time-out.

The numbers are no less alarming. 75% surveyed have witnessed at least verbal abuse in youth sports while 35% have seen or been the victim of physical altercation and violence. And 25% now have second thoughts about even allowing their youngster to play any organized sport because of growing concerns over verbal and physical abuse and violence.

And in responding to what the New York Times has called a growing epidemic of parental violence in youth sports, the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) claims that over 75% of its trained officials who quit cite “poor sportsmanship and abuse by parents” as the number one factor. It’s also why NASO claims that we have a shortage of trained referees at many of our sporting events at a time when we need more not les supervision. On and off the field.


Talk, good. Hitting bad. Baby steps to all you coaches and parents. baby steps.

Currently, 22 states have passed legislation making it a criminal act to verbally or physically assault a referee. That’s a start. Now 28 more need to do the same.

But mostly, we, the supposed adults in this life equation need to start acting like grown-ups. Whether we are perched in the stands as spectators or prowling the sideline as coaches we need to remember, kids watch every move we make, hear everything we say and then go out and copy us.

kids playing

We’re watching. maybe more than you all think!

And to grown adults who claim highly competitive athletic scholarships or dreams at becoming a pro or just plain everyday stress as justification for their impossibly immature and violent behavior, I’d remind them of what John Wooden, a legendary coach and undeniable adult once said,

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”

He also often told players, fellow coaches and parents the following;

“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are or ever will be as a player. Be the kind of person worth admiring and emulating.”

Coach Wooden

But then maybe coaches and parents who “act out” know better than the greatest coach who ever lived.

To parents and coaches in youth sports, “Are you being the kind of person, coach, parent, the type of adult, worthy of admiration and respect from kids?”

youth player friendship

We like it more when you don’t yell and curse at us. Go figure, huh?

Maybe it’s time we all started acting like the type of adults we’d want our kids to one day become. On and off the field.

Because at our age we’re not supposed to still need time-outs.



12 thoughts on “Friday Night Tykes Football and Adult-Sized Rage

  1. Karissa S says:

    As far as the coach’s ‘pep-talks’ go, I can, to some small degree, understand the need to get the players to be engaged and some-what aggressive in a game. However, there is an obvious line between aggression and violence. The parents, on the other hand, have no need to do any of the things mentioned above or anything beyond a civil conversation with the coach. In my opinion, our society as a whole has become so self-entitled that insignificant ‘issues’ are reason enough to violently assault some one. Our punishments at home, in school, and in the legal system have become so lenient that no one cares. When we make mistakes that would normally have enormous consequences our society brushes it off and pats you on the head saying “it will be okay. You did nothing wrong.” No one is really held accountable anymore and if they are, they get little more than a slap on the wrist no one actually learns anything and thus we have ‘adults’ with no self control.

    • Luke V. says:


      I agree that self-entitlement is certainly a factor in the violence displayed by parents at sporting events, but I also think that another reason these adults have a lack of self-control is that they themselves were never taught to accept losing or to just accept that some things happen against your wishes and you must just accept that. This goes hand in hand with self-entitlement. The current state of the legal system is also called into question but I’m not really sure that punishment, as found in the current system, is working out so well. Being held accountable is a necessity but instead of punishment maybe we should start earlier with children and explain what it is that they have done wrong and why they shouldn’t do it again. Just look at the number of repeat offenders in the justice system and it becomes clear that punishment doesn’t work so well, and instead something else must be done. Perhaps the best thing for parents who act violently at their children’s sporting events should not be allowed to come back or maybe they should be required to attend counseling. Maybe then they can see why they can’t act in that way, but of course it wouldn’t be a perfect fix in all cases. In the end we all should be reminded that these are just games and that the end result is meaningless. Children and parents should remember that its the times spent together and with teammates that really has a lasting impact.

  2. Benjamin N says:

    First I would like to address the coaches “pep talks.” When a coach tells children to “rip their freakin’ heads off and let them bleed,” he not only being unsportsmanlike, but also telling them that violence on the field is acceptable, and in this case, encouraged. These children are between the ages of 7-8 and their brains and bodies are still developing. When a coach continuously tells his players that they should play in this manner, he is harming them psychologically and may effect their future decisions and cause them to act violently.Also, parents need to realize that these are elementary and high school sports and not the Olympics. Their reactions also set an example for their children. Cursing and screaming in front of their kids is a very poor way to parent. I think that coaches and parents need to filter their words and realize that it is about the children having fun and building skills and character, not about winning.

    • Dante.G says:

      I agree with the filter on the parents and coaches side. The thing that has to be understood is that football is a contact sport and also that many families are riding on that child to succeed at that sport in order for them to have a future. I feel like there should be sanctions thrown down on the coaches and parents. The kids should be positively motivated so that they learn sportsmanship and being a better person in the future not only physically but in the mental aspect as well.

  3. Takym V. says:

    With coaches prep talks, it is always a good thing to pump up the little athletes on the team with some inspirational words, but to ” rip their freaking heads off” is highly extreme. The coaches way of being hard on the coaches can be s good thing depending on the child’s age, if they’re high school its good to be on the child but not physically nor verbal abuse at it. Parents also need to be more mature when it comes to their child playing sports and calls were not called.

  4. Daniel C says:

    When I played Little League, the games were 6 innings long. It was mandatory every child play 3 innings. The games were competitive. We tried to win and were coached to win. However we also knew everyone got a chance to play….even the kid you knew would strike out in every bat without every taking a swing. At these kids age, the spirit of competition must be balanced by an appreciate for participation. Kids are learning team work as well as how to win and lose with dignity.

    Sadly, too many parents try to recapture their own youth and live vicariously through their children. When their children are “robbed” as they were, it proves too much for them. And then there are the coaches functioning as enforcers and shame artists. They are teaching our children that second place is the first loser. It is rather sad in a Nation so rich and blessed we spend our time so destructively.

  5. Mike C says:

    As a coach you can appreciate the John Wooden comments but have to also remember he was coaching at a different level and a different time. Coach Wooden coached when the media wasn’t as prevalent as it is now in our society. Our society loves exposure and bad exposure particularly in reality circumstances. Everything that Coach Wooden said was to the media that was their at this time. I’m not taking away from how great of a coach he was but the reality of it now a days everything anyone say’s is recorded and instantly downloaded to youtbue or other program. You never saw video tapes of Coach Wooden in action amongst his players you only saw him through the spectrum of minsucal time that the media encountered.

    With that, I believe that these extremly youth coaches are taking it too far, and for the parents they are rediculous. Remember, youth sports is for the kids. Yes, winning and losing is essential into educating our kids but learning how to lose is just as important as learning how to win. Parents want the best for their kids, i get that. But, also understand that in the “real world” nothing is given to you unless you buy a winning lottery ticket.

  6. Nick C says:

    Nick C
    Youth sports have become more competitive and tempo of them has increased starting at high school and now has filtered down to younger and younger ages. But the deal is the same everyone wants their kid to be special and different so that feeds into to these coahes to do what ever as long as they make the kids special by winning. To change the culture it begins at home because when the parents idea changes it will force the coaches to alter what they do or get pushed aside.

  7. Carter Bragg says:

    I can understand the parents willingness to be involved and want their child to be the best athlete possible, especially with athletic scholarships becoming a growing possibility, but I believe that if the parent is interfering with how the coach is coaching then they need to back off. On the other hand, it is the coaches responsibility to coach these kids to the best of his ability and to teach them sportsmanship. There is a difference between getting the players hyped up and creating a false sense of anger in order for them to play better.

  8. Casey Holcom says:

    It’s important to motivate children and get them ready to play and try to win, but those “pep talks” are way out of hands. People like to claim video games are causing violence but you never hear things like this being blamed.

  9. Michael R. says:

    Is this show an excessive dramatization for the sake of being a “reality” show (if there is such a thing), I certainly hope so. To proclaim that you are motivating a 7 or 8 or 9 year old child by screaming explicits is foolish and far from inspiring. I think the coaches portrayed in the show need to remember that they are coaching Youth Football. Youth Football! It would be quite interesting to witness how these same coaches would coach, instruct, motivate, and teach (you know, the foundational goals of coaching) older kids.

  10. Gabe Frisbie says:

    This Is just sad. It reminds me of the time I was in taco bell here in Valdosta and had my vsu basketball clothes on. I got started talking to the guy next me, he went on for about ten minutes about how his son is going to go pro and make a bunch of money. I asked him old his son was he said seven. I then told him I feel in no way that sports should be about making money at the age of seven and that I feel sorry for his son. This makes me sick on a lot of levels and makes me thankful that I had parents who always gave me the option in sports. This is the sad side of sports that has old timers relieving their glory days through their son’s at a young age. Just flat out sad, their should almost be a committee about what the values of the coach is at a young age before they can coach it should be about having fun first and then learning the fundamentals at that age.

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