By, George Howell (CNN)
Millions watched Sunday night as grown men crushed each other, and there are growing fears about the impact, of all that impact.
So, imagine when it’s kids being encouraged to crush each other. A new reality show called “Friday Night Tykes” on Esquire Network is drawing criticism for its “tough love” approach. It has many asking, “Have children’s football coaches gone too far?”
“You have the opportunity today to rip their freakin’ head off, and let them bleed,” says one of the coaches during a practice on the reality show.
The show features five San Antonio football teams, with children as young as 8 years-old.
With coaches shouting things like, “Don’t give me that soft crap” and “I don’t care how much pain you’re in, you don’t quit,” some say it’s proof children are being pushed too far in sports.
The coaches though, say it’s about teaching discipline through tough love.
But it’s prompts like these, that are getting two of the coaches in trouble: “This is where you earn your play time!” “If that kid comes across, I want you to put it in his helmet. Do you understand?” “Yes sir!” “I don’t care if you don’t’ get up. Let’s go.”
Two of the coaches now find themselves facing consequences. One has been suspended after cameras caught him telling players to hit the other team in the head. Coach Charles Chavarria admits, “I have regrets with my actions and behaviors. I do have regrets with the shows. I’ve lost a lot. “The CEO of the Texas Youth Football Association and a league parents are defending the program, saying, “I think what is not being shown is, you know, these hits in the show is not mentioning what’s happening after the fact, that the coaches are pulling the kids together to correct their actions as far as to say, this is not the proper way you tackle.”
“It is an intense activity and our kids are pushing themselves, but it’s because they have the potential for that greatness.”
Some experts though, say the aggressive techniques and hard hits are putting kids at risk of suffering serious injuries, saying, “It’s everything that’s wrong with youth football, and to some degree it’s a lot of what’s wrong with television.”
With more episodes planned to air, the debate continues about whether these young athletes are being pushed to their full potential, or being pushed past the limit.