By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
USA Football, the governing body of the youth football in America, strongly disagrees with a promo for an upcoming reality TV show that it said is exploiting the values of youth football.
"Friday Night Tykes," a reality show about a youth football league for kids 10 and under based in San Antonio, will debut Jan. 14 on the new Esquire Network. Television promos show crying children, overbearing coaches and helmet-to-helmet hits.
"Commenting on a television program before it airs is not common practice, however, we believe that the language and scenes in this show's previews are in sharp contrast to the overwhelming majority of the youth football community," USA Football said in to NFL Evolution. "One example of how youth leagues in all 50 states are making the sport better and safer while keeping it fun is through USA Football's Heads Up Football program. In its first year (2013), more than 25 percent of all youth football organizations registered for Heads Up Football, which is establishing significant behavior change rooted in education and CDC-approved player safety protocols. Medical organizations representing more than 80,000 medical professionals as well as football leaders spanning youth, high school, collegiate and professional levels endorse Heads Up Football for our young athletes."
Key elements of the Heads Up Football program include proper tackling techniques without the helmet, concussion safety and coaching certification, which includes directing kids in a respectful manner.
Meanwhile, the network -- a strategic partnership between Hearst Magazines and NBCUniversal, the latter of which also broadcasts "Sunday Night Football" -- defended the series' raw elements.
Here is one of the promos that the Esquire Network is airing for the series: