Sometimes allow myself to think I’ve seen youth sports parents reach the absolute, rock bottom depth of dysfunction. I actually thought it during my first year of coaching when one of the moms told the Irish Rose her son is a “real heart throb.” When the kid was 8. And she was dead serious. The beauty of “Friday Night Tykes” is that it brings you levels of twisted football parents behavior even worse than drunken suburban moms who probably name their vibrators after their own sons, on a weekly basis. This week’s was no exception.
*We start with the resolution of last week’s cliffhanger, the incident between dangerously over-inflated Col. Sanders actor Steven Cordova and Venom player Chance Edwards. Cordova came down off the spaceship from “Wall-E” long enough to tell us his side of how he managed to get into a physical altercation with a 10-year-old. And his side is that he was trying to tell all the kids they weren’t allowed to sit on the bench, and Chance started it. “I’ve dealt with a lot of kids,” he says. “I’ve never had one push me. Or even throw a punch at me. I guess I was shocked. … But I was supposed to be the adult.” Which I guess is as close to contrition as we’ll probably get from a grownass man trying to argue a 4th grader drew First Blood.
*Next, Venom coaches meet with parents to assure them that the deployed air bag called Cordova is now an ex-coach and won’t be back, but that Chance will. We then find out that Mr. & Mrs. Edwards have a different idea, and have asked for Chance’s release. For all I know about TYFA, Venom takes a cap hit on the pro-rated portion of his signing bonus. But when the kid is leaving because one of your staff committed assault, you carry the dead money on the books.
*Venom head coach Corey Jefferson talks about meeting with Chance’s parents just to say he’s sorry that one of his coaches put their son in fear. He’s the only one involved with the team who could be bothered to check in on them. Because fuck it. They’re onto the Warhawks.
*If you had “A total shitshow” in the “What will the Venom coaching staff be in the wake of Pushgate?” office pool, come pick up your prize. In the game against the Warhawks, Jefferson is obsessed with the officials, inspiring his troops by screaming “We can’t beat the refs, man!!!” Assistant coach/TYFA commissioner is just going Shleprock on everyone, responding to one of his own players returning a punt for a touchdown with “We were lucky as shit.” The OC complains that all Davis does is complain, instead of helping bait the officials like everybody else. The highlight comes when Jefferson indignantly confronts the referee for ignoring him while he was trying to call time. The ref replies with the deadpan of a man who’s decided taking people’s shit isn’t worth 50 bucks a game, “You’re all out of timeouts.” “We are?” Jefferson says to his bench. “They why y’all let me call one?!?” And as they lose 16-6, the circular firing squad is back in formation.
*We get a look at the home life of the Dubose twins of Tha (not a typo) 210 Outlaws, both of whom all the coaches just call “Twin.” Which is so brilliant I despise myself for not thinking of it when I had a pair I couldn’t keep straight even after three years of coaching them. So we just kept Liam at left corner and Ryan at right. So pro tip from Tha Two-one-oh.
*The Twins have an entire room of the house more than half filled with enough trophies to cover a season of “Toddlers & Tiaras.” We learn this after a jump cut from the home of Austin Steelers Tre Tre McCutcheon, whose two brothers have a Michael Phelps-like collection of AAU medals. The fact they’re hanging from hooks in the kitchen tells you all you need to know about how precious AAU medals are. But the bottom line is that Trump better keep the Cheap, Meaningless Award manufacturing industry in this country or the Texas economy will collapse.
*Tre Tre is without a doubt the breakout star of this one. We find out his mom is sitting him out of the game against
The Tha 210 because he got into a fight in school. The Steelers coaching staff stand up for their beliefs about the importance of good behavior and obeying school rules by talking her out of it. Tre Tre immediately rewards their contempt for good parenting by catching a long touchdown bomb, then laying out for a deep catch to set up another score. On defense, the Steelers have to burn a timeout because Tre isn’t listening to HC Sedrick Alexander who’s shrieking at him to get up from 8 yards off the ball and up into a gap. As they call time, he’s on the field, dancing.
*Tha 210 Outlaws take a 13-12 lead into the half, and the coaches’ frustration with Tre Tre reaches critical mass. He responds to a loud lecture from Alexander about the importance of contain with all the rapt attention of the kid from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” laying flat on his back and staring off into space. So we’re treated to the sight of Alexander pulling Tre aside to explain his coaching method. “Just ’cause I’m talking to you don’t mean I’m mad. I’m NOT MAD!!!” Delivered at full volume, right in the kid’s face while he stares blankly back.
*Finally, just to complete the Child Abuse Trifecta, the second half begins with the ref warning both benches there is severe weather coming on. And if he has to stop play, it’s an official game. The Steelers score to regain the lead just as the kind of storm that makes Midwesteners run to the root cellar comes rolling in, complete with lightning strikes, and the ref calls it. Of course safety comes first. Which is to say, in TYFA it comes second if your opponent just took the lead. Outlaws coach Marlon Joplin actually talks the ref into sending the kids back out on the field as hot, zizzing bolts of electric death some firing down out of the sky. The field is cleared again, but a Steelers coach decides to ride the storm out in the middle of the field, under what is basically a lightning rod in umbrella form, surrounded by players. A perfect bookend to the way the episode began. The lightning to go with Steven Cordova’s thunder. Perfect.