"These aren't monsters," says Friday Night Tykes executive producer Matt Maranz of parents who push their children to excel in an often dangerous sport
How hard is too hard?
That’s the question the team behind Friday Night Tykes is looking to answer with their Esquire Network documentary series.
“We’re asking, ‘How far is too far?’ and ‘How hard it is to hard?’ and ‘How young is too young to push the kids?’ Essentially, it’s a series about how, as a society, should we be raising our kids,” says executive producer Matt Maranz.
Following one of the most competitive youth football leagues in America, Friday Night Tykes launches its third season early next year, and PEOPLE has an exclusive sneak peek at the new season.
“This has been going on in Texas long before he showed up and will probably be going on long after we leave,” Maranz says of the intense training and physical conditions to which the kids are subjected in the clip. “We never ended up in a situation where we felt like we had to intervene on behalf of the child to protect their safety, but we were surprised that a lot of injuries and things that you would expect to happen to professional athletes are now happening to 8-, 9- and 10-year-old kids.”
Maranz assures that his team isn’t looking to answer any of the questions presented in the series, but he hopes it facilitates a conversation.
“These aren’t monsters,” he says of the parents and coaches. “They don’t wake up in the morning saying, ‘Oh, man. I can’t wait to mess up some kid tonight.’ These are people who truly believe that this experience with football is preparing their kids for the rest of their lives. They genuinely believe that this is the best way to raise children.”
But Maranz promises that season 3 will offer a look at another Texas league with a very different philosophy.
“This season, we start following a less extreme team,” says Maranz. “They practice once a week and that’s all. And what’s interesting is that they may be the best team around. It’s really intriguing that we’ve seen seen the extreme side of youth football and here is a group of people who approach it very differently. Where one practice is enough. It’s interesting to see how people have different ideas about what is best for their kids.”
Season 3 of Friday Night Tykes premieres Jan. 19 at 9 p.m. ET on Esquire Network.