The world of youth sports brings out a wide array of emotions from the parents watching from the sidelines. These men and women are told to sit on cold metal bleachers along a white line painted on grass, which they are sternly told not to cross over to where their children play on the other side. It’s as much as a psychological game for these parents as it is a physical one for their athletic offspring. At times, this environment can bring out the grisliest of the most reserved individual.
We’ve teamed up with the Esquire Network to create an explorative guide to the many classifications of sideline parent as featured in the show Friday Night Tykes which returns for season two on Jan. 20 at 10|9c.
This parent may not have the most talented kid on the team, but he certainly gets a lot of playing time. This parent practices a sort of mating dance with the coach. It might start off with offering expensive pair of sunglasses that were “extras” and will eventually work up to invitations to play golf at the club together. His firm and strong hand gripping the coach’s shoulder demonstrates both desperation and an attempt at establishing dominance.
The “Sports Aren’t Really My Thing” Father.
It’s the bespectacled father in the L.L. Bean vest who sits in his fraying, fold-up lawn chair rereading Marcel Proust. Sometimes favorable traits skip a generation, and natural athletic talent is no exception. Despite their generally warm and loving relationship, his daughter showed early signs of superior strength, agility, and hand-eye coordination. In order to keep the bond to his child, he shows up to every game book in hand to show support. Occasionally looking up to view the scoreboard and estimate how much time is left.
The Gaggle of Gossiping Parents.
Do you hear the hushed voices? Do you see the sharp, side-eye glances? These parents sit in packs and talk secretly (and sometimes viciously) about the players, the coaches, and their other parents whom which they share the sidelines. They discuss personal lives, make judgements on innate abilities, and compare financial investments into the sport and their child’s skills as if it were a recently purchased lake house or the newest model of luxury cars.
Every team has one and no one is safe from him. Often disillusioned about his role within the group of parents and painfully unaware how unliked he is by the others, the heckler’s biggest issue is a lack of filter. He says whatever he wants aggressively and void of any tactfulness. The heckler shouts insults at coaches, refs, and players on both sides of the field. His own child is not spared from the verbal abuse.
Overly Enthusiastic Cheerleader.
She is most proud of the effort her young athlete puts into the game. She will build her child right back up from the fumble they had in the first quarter. Strong protective instincts paired with unbelievable optimism, she is the antithesis of the heckler parent and an equal opportunity supporter. She provides for the team with orange slices at half-time and 2,000 calories worth of cupcakes and juice boxes at the end of the game, win or lose.
The Nervous Nail-Biter.
He was not exactly thrilled when his son came home from school wanting to play a contact sport. He was hoping junior would take to a safer game like golf where opposing players stay yards away from each other during the majority of competition. Most conversations in the car after games involve him asking, “Are you sure you still want to do this?” followed by, “It would be alright with me if you wanted to quit.” He white knuckles it every time the ball comes near his son, hoping for an injury-free play or a timeout but anticipating the crunch of broken bones.
The Loner Father.
About 10 yards south of the bleachers is the elusive loner parent. A solitary type, He comes to every game, but never sits with the other parents. He is a father of few words, but an astute observer of the game. He heads to the car as soon as the players line up to shake hands and waits patiently for his son or daughter. He interacts cordially with his child’s teammates and may even throw them a “good game,” but largely, remains an enigma to their parents. The players belonging to these fathers tend to be extraordinarily talented and humble. The stars of of any team and everyone’s favorite. Well, except for the heckler.
Friday Night Tykes is the latest reality hit that follows the passion and competitive spirit of teams in the Rookie division of the Texas Youth Football Association. Tune in to the Esquire Network to watch the premiere of season two on Jan. 20 at 10|9c.