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"Friday Night Tykes": Episode 5

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"You can't do what you want to do on this field" 


These are the words assistant Outlaws' coach Tony Coley barked at 8-year-old Tamari Hayes in last night's fifth episode of "Friday Night Tykes."  Ordered to run a lap (as punishment for a mistake or rule violation so trivial that I somehow missed it), Tamari walked around the practice field instead.  "I asked you to run the lap and you walked it. Everybody has rules. You have to follow them or face the consequences," Coley scolded.

How ironic that Coley was lecturing Hayes for violating a rule when, as FNT has shown us, time and again, is the Texas Youth Football Association is the Wild, Wild West of youth football, a league where there are very few rules, at least when it comes to the conduct of coaches, who continue to scream profanity at their players (to the point that one has already been suspended for the spring football season), engage in what many, including me, view as out-and-out child abuse, and put the safety of athletes at risk in countless ways, not just in terms of head injuries, but heat illness, and emotional and psychological safety as well.  Friday Night Tykes

Granted, last night's episode didn't hit a new low, thankfully (although I'm holding my breath, worried about what we might see as the teams ratchet things up as they head towards the playoffs). In fact, as I will get to in a moment, it actually had some positive moments.

But parents need to remember that even something as seemingly innocuous as the coach playfully giving a player a wedgie could be considered by some, including me, as inappropriate.  Abuse, as I have been saying for many years, takes many forms.  

Now for the "teachable moments":

FNT: Sportsmanship

The scene in which the President of the Northeast Colts, Marecus Goodloe, arranges for an autistic boy on the team to score a touchdown, which almost brought Goodloe to tears, was a touching display of sportsmanship. It reminded me of some of Doug Abrams' monthly Youth Sports Heroes blog honoring similar acts of sportsmanship, and was an important reminder that, even in the midst of all the win-at-all-costs mentality on display in FNT, there are coaches and parents doing the right thing, not nearly as often as we would like, but at leat sometimes.

Related MomsTEAM content:

Youth Sports Heroes of the Month: Acts of True Sportsmanship 1200 Miles Apart 

Youth Sports Heroes of the Month: Ethan McConnell and Davan Overton (Oregon)  

Youth Sports Heroes (One Year Later): Jonathon Montanez and Mitchell Marcus (El Paso, Tex.) 

Youth Sports Heroes of the Month: Acts of True Sportsmanship 1200 Miles Apart

FNT: Age-Appropriate Coaching

When the coach of the Judson Junior Rockets decided to simplify his team's offense because it "was too complicated for the kids to understand," he was probably motivated more by a desire to win than by anything else, but it was a reminder about how a good coach understands the need to set age-appropriate expectations.  In other words, expecting 8- and 9-year-olds to run a West Coast offense worthy of Bill Walsh's great 49'er teams of the 80's was, well, unrealistic.

Related MomsTEAM content: 

Setting Realistic Expectations Depends on Age of Youth Athlete

Set Realistic Expectations For Child in Sports

Ten Signs of A Good Youth Sports Coach

Twelve Signs of A Good Youth Sports Program

Good Youth Sports Coaches Get Training, Emphasize Safety

Youth Sports Coaches Need to Set Realistic, Age-Appropriate Expectations


Bullying continues to be a huge problem, so it was nice to see Eric Nolden, an assistant coach with the Outlaws, talking to kids he was mentoring in a basketball program about how to deal with bullies.

Related MomsTEAM Content:

Bullying: An Ongoing Problem In Youth Sports

Dealing With Bullying: 10 Tips for Parents

Critical Coach or Bully?

Stop Youth Sports Coaches Who Bully By Recognizing Techniques They Use To Avoid Blame

Obese Children Need Sports, Not Bullying

Obese Children Bullied More Often: Study

Bullying On Sports Teams: Advice for Parents

Ten Tips To Prevent Bullying

Youth Sports Heroes of the Month: Queen Creek (Arizona) High School Football Team

Ten Ways To Tell If Your Child Is A Bully


Missed the earlier blogs in this series? Here are the links:

"Friday Night Tykes": A Viewer's Guide To Episodes 1 and 2

"Friday Night Tykes": Episode 3

"Friday Night Tykes": Episode 4 

Brooke de Lench is Executive Director of MomsTEAM Institute, Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com, author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers In Youth Sports (HarperCollins), and Producer/Director of the PBS concussion documentary, "The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer." You can email me at delench@MomsTeam.com and follow me on Twitter @brookedelench.

Photo credit: Walter Iooss - Esquire Network