HBO News Blog

HBO Sports Documentary – STATE OF PLAY: TROPHY KIDS

By | HBO Series: HBO Sports | Dec 5, 2013

HBOSports logo2Overview: HBO Sports and executive producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey team up again for the innovative new documentary film series STATE OF PLAY. the show takes on complex and multi-layered themes in sports, exploring their relationship to larger society. Each new edition spotlights a topic or person whose impact on the sports world is undeniable, opening with a brief overview followed by a 40-minute cinéma vérité documentary and concluding with an in-depth, 20-minute roundtable discussion of the issue with the filmmakers, subjects and guest experts. Emmy® nominee Berg (Friday Night Lights) serves as moderator of the panel discussion.

 The film that opens the program, TROPHY KIDS features a compelling and engaging examination of the obsession a growing number of parents have with the scholastic athletic competition of their children.

StateofPlay TrophyKids

 Expectations:  Truthfully, I was not going to review this premiere. This is yet another ongoing series of documentaries for HBO, this time from the Sports division, and this writer has logged a lot of time watching and reviewing these types of films that I thought I’d give it a rest. But, then I looked into the format for STATE OF PLAY and the subject matter of the first installment and decided to go ahead and invest the hour and see what I thought of it. Even after watching the trailer (that appears below) I haven’t really formulated any expectations. I approach the film with a clear mind and I will see what feelings and thoughts in evokes. I hope there are those out there that will do the same.

 

Gut Reaction: I actually thought I could skip this? It was a well done 57 minutes and the follow-up added great input to the topic. It is like the VICE program except instead of talking to correspondents the panel consists of experts to elaborate and comment on the footage. It is a shame other HBO documentaries don’t have a little roundtable discussion afterwards.StateOfPlay Amari

TROPHY KIDS is about five children and the training and discipline they go through for their particular sport under the guidance of a parent. Amari is a youngster working hard at golf because her father envisions her to be a prominent ethnic LPGA player and be the breadwinner. Derek is being yelled at and drilled on in basketball so that scholarship money pays his way so Dad doesn’t have to do it. Blake & Tanner are playing through the ranks in tennis because Mom says “they want to play” so she is going to see that “they become the top tennis doubles in the world.” Justis focuses on football and his father figuratively beats him tough because he prizes the ethic value and confidence Justis will gain through the discipline in order to become “a man.”

 Are these extreme cases? I don’t know. If you are around sports you see these types of relationship all the time. You see the parent living through the child; you see the competitive spirit consuming the fun right out of it all; you see the money spent on the latest; you see, often times, the unhappy child. It leaves me to wonder how far the situation has escalated in the relationships I see. This documentary puts that right in your face and it alarms you. One child actually moves out due to the intensity displayed here. After all that is shown then the experts, sports psychologist Dr. Larry Lauer and former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich, who lived the lifestyle talked about here, point out the fundamental problems with the relationships that would probably still remain  even if sports were out of the equation. Man, some just take it way too seriously to the detriment of the children involved.

Follow-up: From HBO here is a Q & A with Peter Berg about the series.

Q: Is the subject of ‘Trophy Kids’ a personal one for you?

 Peter Berg: Having coached my son’s football team, there were moments I could really relate to. It’s a universal, polarizing subject. Certainly any parent whose kids are getting involved in athletics can understand it. It’s a very real example of where we are as a culture and what we’re doing with our kids today.

 Q:  How is this different than other documentary series you’ve worked on?

Peter Berg: When we talked about doing a series, the idea was to distinguish ourselves from other sports documentary series. 30 for 30, which I worked on, it’d be hard to find any weakness in. But a lot of what they do is focused on a very specific moment in time – like the Gretzky piece I did, or SMU football getting the death sentence. ‘Broke,’ a great doc about the challenges athletes face in holding on to their money, is more in line with the kinds of things we want to do: More thematic stories that speak to the larger issues that will hopefully serve as a catalyst for conversations.

 Q : How many do you plan to do?StateOfPlay PeterBerg

 Peter Berg: 50! [laughs] Right now we’re doing four. But since we’re already on our third, we’re going to come back and ask for more.

 Q : What’s the next film you have planned?

 Peter Berg:  The next one is called ‘Culture Shock’ and it’s about football. Everyone concedes that football has problems. The question is, can you bring down the speed limit to 50 from 75? The sport has just gotten too big, too fast, too strong, and they’re trying to slow it down. We’ve gotten unprecedented access to the NFL and the Players Union as we dive into how the game can actually be made safer. There’s an argument that the game of football won’t exist in 50 years the way it’s played now. There are signs everywhere, whether it’s in the NFL, whether it is Under Armor’s football sales dropping 30 percent, or whether it’s youth football seeing a decline of 28 percent in participation. We’ve reached a tipping point, and we’re looking at how we’re going to save the game.

 Q: How did you get that kind of access to the NFL?

 Peter Berg: Everybody realizes that something has to be done. Roger Goodell is a good guy. And you can quote me on that. He doesn’t like seeing guys getting hurt, breaking their necks, or killing themselves. It is not Roger Goodell’s fault. The NFL is trying to do whatever they can in a complex and legally-fraught environment.

Q: What’s the next film after that?

Peter Berg: The third film we’re doing is called ‘Broken,’ and it’s a look at athletes who have broken their necks and become paraplegic. It’s a look at what happens to a human being whose entire life has been about his body and his physicality and what happens to him when that gets taken. It’s a story of resiliency, family, love, and how somebody survives the unimaginable.

 Q: How did Todd Marinovich get involved in the film’s panel discussion?

 Peter Berg: Todd Marinovich is such a fascinating guy. One of our editors knew him, we sent him the film and evidently he saw the film and couldn’t sleep for two days. He’s kind of dropped out of society; he lives in the Pacific Northwest. He seemed shy at first, but once he got comfortable, he really had a lot to say. We talked for a while and he talked about how he’s going to encourage his kid.

 We could’ve loaded up the panel with 10 people, but one of our feelings is that sports shows have gotten too competitive. Everyone is fighting to get their sound bite in. Everyone is so bright and loud and slick. We wanted to slow it down.

Q: What’s the biggest difference in kid’s sports today?StateOfPlay Justis

 Peter Berg: I used to play football in my friend’s yard, with dogs biting us, and we’d come home dirty and bleeding. And we’d play for it hours-it was fun! And you actually learn how to play. In the winter, we’d all skate or play basketball. Now, kids have to declare their sport at age seven. That’s it, I’m a lacrosse player. The idea of play is at risk.

 Q: Has the film had affected your personal approach to parenting?

 Peter Berg: My kid is 13 years old and, as a parent, it can sometimes be difficult. You watch your kid be lazy, or put in what you perceive to be a lack of effort, and it can be frustrating. Being part of this film has actually made me a better parent. It’s relaxed my expectations for my son. After hearing Marinovich say that if he could say anything to the kid in the film he’d give him a hug — well, I’ve hugged my kid a lot since then. I’ve been that dad in the car, asking him why he did this or didn’t do that. I won’t do that anymore.

 Q: Do you think successful parents are more hands-off?

 Peter Berg: There’s no rule of thumb. I’ve seen successful parents be very intense with their kids, and I’ve seen them back off. What I find interesting is looking at the parent of the really successful kids on the field. On the surface they might seem very laissez faire, but if things go wrong, they’re vigilant, they’re intense. Not every parent is as intense as Steve the basketball dad. “C’mon man! What are you looking at!” Sometimes it’s the quiet parents who are actually on their kids with a wolf-like intensity.

 Q: Is youth sports a worthwhile investment?

 Peter Berg: One area where it’s really intense is the business of personal coaches. Steve Clarkson, “The Dreammaker,” is making a fortune teaching kids how to throw a football. These guys get into the ear of a parent who might have delusions about their kids having an athletic career that they’re never going to have. Most high school players aren’t going to play Division I, and most of the ones that do aren’t going to the NFL, and most of those have a three-year average career. It’s not a smart bet.

 In Conclusion: What is a smart bet is this series, but I don’t want to say anymore. I don’t want to give a detailed recap of the documentary. What I want to do is ask you, especially if you are an adult with child athletes at home, to watch STATE OF PLAY: TROPHY KIDS. Then come back and we can debate and talk about it right here in the Comments Section because there is really a lot we could talk about.        

  Other HBO air dates are 12.06 at 11:30pm; 12.08 at 7:30am; 12.10 at 3:15pm’ 12.13 at 8:30am & 7:30pm; 12.14 at 11:00pm; 12.21 at 4:30pm 12.26 at 4:00pm; 12.27 at 5:25am and 12.30 at 12:30am. It is also on HBOGo.    

 

 


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  • Scott

    Wow!!! Terrible parents, father of golfer, football player and basketball player are ruining sports for their kids. The kids are scared. These kids will quit sports as soon as they can. They will burn out. Sports are suppose to be fun. No positive reinforcement. These kids would be better without their parents. kids will begin to hate their parents. They will hate their sports. Parents are causing psychological scars that will last forever

  • Mom/grandparent

    These are the worst parents I have ever seen!!! Stop trying to Live your lchildhood through your children!!!! So sad to treat your child like garbage on national TV!!!! I can only imagine how they treat them when the cameras are off!!!! Hugs, support, good words of encouragement, not all those bad words or negativity!!!!! Parents should never train their children!!! How sad…

  • Soccermoma

    I am sadden when I watch this….I wanna see a update 15 years from now and see what happens to these kids…I have kids in competitive sports and THIS is not how you treat your child.

  • Guy

    These people don’t realize the scars they are creating. It’s so sad that they have no one to protect the from the villains, bullies masked as their parents. My heart goes out to those kids because when they grow up no one will understand the cause of their dysfunction.

  • delorest

    I saw this tonight on HBO…..hadn’t seen it before. It’s quite disturbing. The fathers are absolutely abusive! When the kid Justus cried, I cried for him. I was positive that if the cameras hadn’t been on them, the Dad would have hit the boy. Those fathers are mentally and verbally abusive.

  • Katie7

    I watched it and can’t wait for the rest of the segments. When is the second segment going to be. Can’t seem to find that info anywhere?

    • Jef Dinsmore

      Though STATE OF PLAY is a series of documentaries it does not, unfortunately, air monthly. Looking ahead all I can say is that it is not in February’s lineup. We will annouce the next installment.

  • Tracy Bennett

    I woould love to see this and misse dit is there anywhere online to watch this at?

    • Jef Dinsmore

      If you subscribe to HBO the you can watch it on HBOGo.com.

  • Tracy B

    where can i watch this at

  • Darcy Fowler

    I am disgusted and disturbed 1st at the little girl golfers father.HE WANTS A MEAL TICKET.
    As far as the young man who plays football that father is going to have that young man comitting suicide.THE MOTHER NEEDS TO GROW A SET AND GET HER SON AS FAR AWAY FROM THE MONSTER QUICKLY.THANK GOD JUSTICE MOVED WITH HIS MOTHER.STAY STRONG JUSTICE.YOU DESERVE ALOT BETTER FROM YOUR FATHER THEN YOU WERE GETTING FROM HIM ((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))

    • Katie7

      Yes, it was pretty difficult at times to watch. I think they are going to follow up on these kids. So happy the one boy moved back with his mother. These parents are abusing their children. All parents should watch this on how NOT to be.

    • delorest

      Absolutely agree…..his Dad is a basket case.

  • speddaddy

    It was absolutely disturbing to see what those kids were being put through…as always it is lunatic adults who create the rules that kids have to live by…chose a sport kid then work your ass off for10,000 hours in the hopes that you will make millions of dollars…and make me proud of you…

  • Amy

    Can’t these parents see the pain they are causing their children. I hope when they see their own behavior, and see the looks ok their kids faces, that it will make them take a long hard look at themselves.

  • bsalent

    These parent need some fuckin Luvox or something… what a joke this black football dad is provoking his son to stand up to adversity when the biggest adversity in his life is clearly his own father. And why isn’t someone throwing refreshments on this jackass at the basketball game? The next time I see a news story about some kid killing his parents I’ll assume it was the slaughter of one of these horrible parents to turn my frown upside down. Go play sports and be hard on yourselves, dads- give your kids a goddamn break.

    • cardinal

      Football player…Black is irrelevant.

  • Rich

    absolutely disgusting. YOu kids should just quit. YOur parents are absolutely nut jobs. And if you want to go work at walmart, its YOUR life! and yes I am a successful business owner and did and built it on MY own, But it was MY decision and MY life. I hope you kids read this. Be your own man or woman. Stand up for yourself.

  • realist

    liberal soft ass fucks.. with their every kids a winner attitude

    • Katie7

      HUH? What are you talking about? How is this relating to the show? Unless you are one of those teabaggers who hate everyone and everything. What a jerk you are. Bet you are just like those parents if you have children. Let’s hope not.

      • delorest

        It’s sad….isn’t it? With some people, it’s all about politics!

  • John

    This documentary is awful. The parents are awful to their children and verbally abusive.

  • Cresenda Jones

    Parents – insane behavior and NOOOOOO understanding of human development. So sad!! Psychological and verbal abuse.
    Ephesians 6:4 – New International Version (NIV)
    Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

  • Cresenda Jones

    All l saw in this documentary is child abuse. So sad!!!

  • Boone

    I’d like to see a follow up down the road showing if these kids stick with their respective sports and if so, how they hold up.

  • kpetty

    These parents need significant psychological help. They are completely messed up. These kids will have to do much work to put their lives together. The parent’s behaviors are criminal.

    • Cresenda Jones

      So true. So sad!!

  • Rob Gibson

    First reaction? Anger at these domineering “parents” for pushing their kids to a near emotional breakdown. Naming calling. Denigration. These parents are pushing their failed dreams onto their kids.

  • Diane

    Just watched this documentary, and it brought back memories. Widowed with 2 very young sons, we were all dealing with the sudden and extremely tragic loss of my husband and their father. Despite therapy, as my oldest got older, he began to act out, and as he got even older, he began to get in trouble, so I understand the behavior of Justus’ father; HOWEVER, I didn’t yell at my son because he wasn’t playing a sport to the best of what I thought was his ability. And, even during the worst times, I would always tell my son how much I loved him, and how he was going to do great things if he could just get out of his own way. To belittle your son or daughter, to call her a “little bitch” on camera, to tell your child that he’s not a man because of his/her ability (or inability) to live up to your sports expectations, or to NOT tell your child that she’s a great kid because she didn’t play a game the way you wanted her to is just so wrong. I’m sure Justus’ father sees that his methods weren’t the most effective/productive since the young man is now living with his mother (and I thank her for trying to stand up to him-to tell you the truth, I was half expecting him to hit her….and, DUDE, that’s exactly the way you came off on camera).

    During the documentary, it was clear that the kids were miserable, with the exception of the 2 brothers, whose mother seemed to take a less aggressive approach, at least on camera.

    It took me years to understand that the negative attention you give your kids only produces negative results. Once I realized it, I wondered why it’d taken me so long to see the correlation. It seems like the young golfer’s father has taken a step towards understanding – let’s hope that the other 2 fathers catch on, and maybe they won’t ruin their relationships.

  • Pete Sabastian C

    LET ME TELL YOU ALL SOMETHING! I AM 34 YEARS OLD AND I AM JUST COMING FROM BELONG NOTHING MY WHOLE LIFE! I DID NOT HAVE A DAD TO BOTHER YELL AT ME AND MY MOM WORKED AND SLEPT WHILE I SNUCK OUT OF THE HOUSE AND FOUND LOSERS TO HANG OUT WITH WHEN SHE TOLD ME TO DO SOMETHING I LAUGHED BECAUSE SHE HAD NO AUTHORITY OVER ME SHE DID NOT MAKE ME FEAR HER SO I WALKED ALL OVER HER AS A YOUNG MAN AND DID WHAT I WANTED WHEN I WANTED INCLUDING NOT GOING TO SCHOOL! NOW I AM PAYING FOR IT!!

    I WISH I HAD A DAD TO YELL AT ME AND PUT ME IN MY PLACE THE GUYS ON THE SHOW WERE ONLY THERE IN THAT SEAT ONLY BECAUSE THEY HAD A DAD THAT WAS ON THEIR ASS OR THEY WOULD BE ON THE SIDE OF THE FENCE THAT I AM ON NOW JUST NOW GETTING MY LIFE TOGETHER AT AGE 34 I NOW CLING TO OLDER MEN “FATHER FIGURES” THAT GIVE ME GUIDANCE AND KEEP ME ON A GOOD PATH AND ASK THEM FOR GOOD ADVICE..

    I APPRECIATE BEING CHASTISED AND ALWAYS HAVE EVEN AS A YOUNG MAN I JUST DID NOT LISTEN TO MY MOM BECAUSE SHE SAID EVERYTHING AS A CHOICE NOT A COMMAND AND THAT HURT ME MEN SPEAK IN COMMAND MOTHERS SPEAK OUT OF LOVE WELL “LOVE” WORKS FINE WHEN YOUR 5 YEARS OLD AND A BOOBOO ON YOUR KNEE! BUT IN THE REAL WORLD EVERYONE WILL EAT YOU ALIVE AND DAD PREPARES YOU FOR THE DOWN RIGHT FACE SLAPPING REALITY OF THE DOG EAT DOG WORLD OUT THERE MY MOM ALMOST COST ME MY VERY LIFE WITH THE WAY SHE RAISED ME! LITERALLY! MAKING ME THINK EVERYONE LOVED ME AND WANTED ME TO BE GREAT AND PROTECT ME AS SHE DID… AND THAT IS NOT THE REALITY OF THE BIG BAD WORLD THEY WILL TAKE E V E R Y T H I N G FROM YOU EVEN IF ALL YOU HAVE IS A SMILE THEY WILL TRY TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU TOO!

    SHE PROTECTED ME FROM THE WORLD AND KEPT THE REAL WORLD A BIG SECRET FORM ME TIL ONE DAY I STARTED SNEAKING OUT OF THE HOUSE WHILE SHE SLEPT AND GOT INTRODUCED INTO THE WORLD TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS UP WHEN I WAS 13 YEARS OLD I WENT WALKING HOME LATE ONE NIGHT AND A MAN THAT ALL THE NEIGHBORS KNEW SO I DIDNT THINK ANYTHING OF IT SO HE STOPPED ME ASKING ME IF I HAD A NOSTRIL CLEAR I CHECKED AND SAID YES HE SAID YOU WANT A LIL COCAINE? I SAID SURE I HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS SO I TOOK IT HE THEN HAD ME COME OVER ALL THE TIME DOING ALL THE COKE I WANTED IF I SOLD POT FOR HIM!

    MY DAD WOULD FIRST OFF NOT HAVE LET THAT GO DOWN BUT MY MOM GOT RID OF HIM THINKING THAT HE WAS ABUSIVE AND IN A WAY IT IS BUT SOMETIMES I KNOW FROM MY OWN LIFE OTHER KIDS ARE MORE HARD HEADED THEN OTHERS I WAS THE BOY THAT WOULD NEED A GOOD ASS WIPING BUT NEVER GOT IT SO I DID WHAT I WANTED WHEN I WANTED TOO…

    I HAVE A FRIEND THAT IS IN HIS 60′S THAT I LOOK TO AS A TEACHER TODAY FOR GUIDANCE AND QUESTIONS I HAVE AND HE TOLD ME THAT THE BEST THING HIS DAD EVER DID WAS BUSTED HIS ASS WHEN HE NEEDED IT AND THAT WAS ALL THE TIME AND HE BROKE DOWN IN TEARS AND WHEN A 63 YEAR OLD MAN BREAKS DOWN IN TEARS OVER BEING GRATEFUL HIS DAD KICKED HIS ASS THAT HE WAS STILL THERE TODAY IS GOOD IN MY EYES AS HE TOLD ME HE WAS THE ONLY SON BY HIS DADS SIDE WHEN HE PASSED SHOWING THAT A PUNK KID CAN BE A GOOD MAN WITH THE RIGHT CHASTISEMENT NOT THAT ALL NEED THEIR ASS BEAT OR EVEN YELLED AT BUT THAT WHEN THE TIME COMES THE WILLINGNESS TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! IS DONE! WILL SAVE YOUR CHILDS VERY LIFE!

    AND THE KIDS ON THIS SHOW ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THE DAD THEY HAVE AND I BET IF ASKED BY THE GUY IN THE CHAIR BEING ASKED QUESTIONS IF THEY HAD ASKED HIM THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF ALL AND THAT IS “ARE YOU GLAD TODAY THAT YOUR DAD RODE YOUR ASS LIKE HE DID??” I BET HE WOULD SAY YES IF NOT ITS ONLY BECAUSE HE IS IGNORANT OF THE SIDE OF THE WORLD I KNOW WHERE NO ONE CARES OR THEY HAVE TO WORK AND DONT HAVE TIME TO CATCH A BOY UP TO NO GOOD ANOTHER REASON WHY IT TAKES TWO PARENTS TO RAISE KIDS!

    AND FYI THAT WOMAN THAT WAS HASTISING HER HUSBAND NEEDS TO DO THAT AWAY FROM THE KIDS ETHER AGREE RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS WITH WHAT HE IS SAYING OR WAIT TIL YOUR ALONE TO STATE YOUR CONERNS BECAUSE THAT BOY WILL RESPECT YOU AS MOM AND DAD A LOT MORE RIDING HIS ASS TO BE GREAT THEN SPOILING HIM AND BABYING HIM AND WHEN HE IS 25 AND WANTS TO BUY BEER AND YOU TELL HIM NO HE TAKES A/YOUR GUN AND SHOOTS YOU IN THE FACE BECAUSE HE DIDNT LIKE YOU TELLING HIM NO! MOM!

    SO IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE WAY YOUR HUSBAND TALKS TO HIS CHILD YOU TELL HIM AWAY FROM THE KIDS SO YOU CAN TALK IT OUT CHASTISING THE FATHER IN FRONT OF THE KIDS IS ONLY GOING TO MAKE HIM THINK YOU BOTH ARE A JOKE AND NOT LISTEN TO ETHER OF YOU I SAY BE AS HARD AS YOU CAN BE TO MAKE HIM GREAT THEN AT 18 HE WILL BE ON HIS OWN AND PRAY TO GOD THAT AFTER HE IS GONE HE HUNGERS FOR MORE CHASTISEMENT AND KEEPS STRIVING TO BE GREAT BUT DOING NOTHING MAKES HIM NOTHING NOT PUSHING YOUR CHILD TO BE GREAT AT ANYTHING WILL ONLY MAKE HIM GREAT AT BEING NOTHING THIS I KNOW WITH MY VERY LIFE….

    IS NOT GOD HIMSELF HARD ON US? DID GOD HIMSELF NOT GIVE MEN AUTHORITY OVER ALL HE HAS? I MEAN ONCE AGAIN WOMAN HATE THIS BUT ITS IS THIS WAY FOR A REASON SO YOUR CHILD DOES NOT SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE ONE DAY BECAUSE YOU FINALLY TELL HIM NO FOR THE FIRST TIME AT AGE 25… THANK GOT MY MOM AT LEAST TOLD ME NO ALL THE TIME IN FACT I DONT THING SHE EVER SAID YES TO ANYTHING LMAO I LOVE MY MOM AND HELP HER WHEN I CAN BUT ANOTHER THING BECAUSE OF THE WAY SHE RAISED ME SHE STILL HELPS ME A LOT MORE THEN I HELP HER…

    HOPEFULLY IN A YEARS TIME THAT WILL CHANGE I WILL REALLY BE UP ON MY FEET ENOUGH TO NOT JUST TAKE CARE OF MY MOMMA BUT ALL MY FAMILY AS WELL.. AND ANOTHER THING WHEN YOUR KIDS MAKE LOSERS AND FOOLS FOR FRIENDS IT TAKES MOVING AWAY AND OR THEM DIEING TO GET RID OF THEM AGAIN I KNOW THIS I STILL GET PEOPLE COMING TO MY MOMMAS DOOR ASKING FOR ME WITH NO CAR NO JOB SOB STORIES BUT THEY HAVE A PIPE IF I HAVE A BOWL TO SMOKE WITH THEM “LOSERS” SO FOR YOUR CHILDS SAKE BE HARD ON THEM THEY WILL BE GRATEFUL IN YEARS TO COME!

    AND WHEN THEY ARE 60 YEARS OLD AND IN TEARS TELLING YOU THEY ARE GLAD THEIR DAD KICKED THEIR ASS BECAUSE HE KNEW HOW MUCH OF A PUNK KID HE WAS AND NEEDED IT AND BECAUSE OF THAT HE WAS ALIVE TO TELL ME THE STORIES HE TOLD ME TODAY! WOMAN JUST CANT UNDERSTAND THE WAY OF A BOY/MAN BECAUSE THEY DONT THINK LIKE WE DO FROM BIRTH YOUR SON PUSHES YOU TO SEE HOW FAR HE CAN TAKE YOU AND IF YOU LET HIM HE WILL PUSH AND PUSH TIL IT COST HIM HIS/YOUR VERY LIFE!!! LIKE I SAID BEFORE, OR WHEN YOU FINALLY TELL HIM “NO” YOU WONT BUY HIM BEER! BANG!

    DONT BE THAT MOTHER LADIES PLEASE FOR GODS SAKE OR PETES SAKE LET DAD BE DAD AND YOU BE LOVEING AND TENDER ITS A BALANCE FOR A REASON..

    God bless everyone always!

    petey!

    PS. one more story i was at my buddies one day who is also hard on his son he is about 15 years old like i said i hunger for chastisement thank God it is probably the only reason why god let me live today with the paths i have gone down in my past anywho! i was at my buddies house who has kids sitting on a porch swing talking to a another buddy of his from work they had just got home and his oldest son about age 7 at the time was out front playing and he just kept swinging and swinging at a golf ball with a golf club over and over and over;

    while the work buddy and i sat there talking i watched a car back out of the driveway up the street and start to head down the street and wouldnt you know it he grand slams that lil plastic ball across the street and cars were lined up along the street out front so he/we could not see the car coming and i caught up in the conversation i was in with “Joel” my buddy “Dereks” work buddy! i saw at the very last moment what was going on and stood up with not even enough time to run to him I YELLED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS “REILEY STOP!!!”

    and because the way his dad raised him! to listen right then not after a few min or when “Reiley” felt like it but when i said to STOP! he stopped right then he didnt take another step or 5 steps or blow me off! he did as his dad taught him and so HE DID WHAT I SAID RIGHT THEN AND IT SAVED HIS VERY LIFE!!! AND I MEAN LITERALLY SAVED HIS LIFE… because his dad teaching him that no means no and stop means stop and he was hard on him when he needed it!

    i have been Dereks friend about 15 years now and i have been around his kids and watched his kids over the years grow up and they would torment each
    other and take turns crying to daddy til daddy got mad and stud up and LMAO!
    you can here them fall to their butts saying NO! NO! NO! because they knew
    what was coming! when you keep pushing and pushing Dereks (dads) buttons and that
    is exactly what they would do for years to this day in fact….

    i would rather have a dad around that was abusive and always on my ass to strive to be great!!! then not have a dad at all and be a loser and a nobody! when i failed at something i usually quit then and thats not healthy but with no dad around to push you…. there is only one outcome….

    • Pete Sabastian C

      on the PS. part… i mint to say my buddy*… is about 15 years older* then me* and that i hunger for chastisement… sorry for the confusion

    • John W Mancini

      I respect your opinion and passion on the subject cause it shows you care. To me, it seems you are only looking at this film in one way and made your mind up. Look at your life and see that you had no father but acted out the way the people you were always around did. You were influenced by what was around you on a daily basis just like these kids. Their dad is on them 24/7. Please be open minded and dont make it a no dad growin up stance. I love my dad but i was by far the best baseball player in my town my whole life and my every thought and action and mannerism is super self-conscious based on him only making fun of anything i did wrong in a, for example, one of my perfect game strike out every out every inning no-hitter game. He would only hang on me maybe striking out one at bat. He would verbally abuse me the whole car ride home in front of my mom and 4 brothers and sisters to crying point all the way to cryin in the shower and i was 11. This happened alot and continues in adulthood. I now have 3 kids and only practice love to them while discipling them in a good fair dad way.

  • Dad’s Reply

    In no way do I condone what was shown on HBO’s Trophy Kids for real life parenting. If you believe for one moment, these actions weren’t for the cameras, you also are not smart enough to be parents. Have any one of you commenters ever been on camera? It changes the most noble person into what the producer/director wants you to be. This show took a culture of “raising champions” to another level similar to how Honey Boo Boo exploits child beauty pageants.
    Now, for my take on parenting an athlete to be a champion in real life: Sports are a wonderful way to teach respect, self confidence and determination. If you think any person gains those attributes by their parents acting like a friend and being “nice” to them all the time, then you are disillusioned. There are times to be compassionate and there are times to demand more, it’s a fine line that’s tough to walk. The problem with letting your son or daughter determine how they will live out their athletic aspirations, is society in general is going soft on respect, true confidence and determination. If a parent doesn’t manage a young person’s upbringing, you think the rest of American society will? The great American trait of striving to be the best is on the decline and some of us would like to counteract that with our own child-rearing. Honestly, the fear is that if you don’t ask your young athlete to do more, THE COMPETITION WILL, and you’ve lost. So, amateur athletics is an arm’s race that is out of parental control, that is the basis of this issue. The parents on HBO’s Trophy Kids were chosen to be on the show due to their lack of control on raising their athletes to be champions. It’s hard to blame them personally, when many societal issues have affected their behaviors. Hollywood, ESPN, AAU, Pop Warner, Snoop Dogg, NCAA, etc. all play a part in this problem. I like solutions rather than just pointing fingers so how about start with making rankings of high school sports athletes illegal. Good place to start, unfortunately won’t happen. How about not allowing anyone younger than 13 to play tackle football, again won’t happen. How about having amateur basketball players play less games per year than LEBRON, 82 by the way. WON’T HAPPEN. So the next time, one of you commenters, talk about punching an over-bearing parent, how about using your finger strength to address societal issues that have led to the exploitation of amateur athletics. Peace.

  • Joyce Sloan

    What bothers me is that it seems nothing is being done to show these parents what they are doing to their kids. The parents need serious counseling and I hope they are looking at these videos. They curse at their kids, they pressure them and expect them to be happy. They push them and yell at them and think they are going to grow up sane and healthy. It really upsets me that this is just a small microscopic look at many of our parents today. They are the ones who are unfulfilled, unhealthy mentally and emotionally and I would hate to be around them whether at home or at work.

    It’s one thing to have a coach push you but when your parent beats you up on the field and at home, there is no place of peace for the child to balance out. Some people may go on to win trophies, but what kind of adults do they grow up to be? What about their relationships? They don’t see it now, but if those children do grow up (because some of them don’t make it), they will not ever want to be around their parents, they won’t let their children be around their grandparents, etc. It is so wrong to try to live vicariously through our children especially if we did not achieve whatever level of success we thought we deserved, so we put our dreams and pressures onto our children and expect them to carry their own load and ours too. Enough!

  • Obsidian71

    Man. Josh still reps UW to the fullest. Guy won two Rose Bowls and a National Championship back in the good ole days. I know he’s hard on Justus but he does know what it takes to win at the highest level. Hope Justus has a great HS and college career.

  • smlsteve

    The people do not deserve to be parents. They are a bunch of wannabe’s that never made it and think they can try again by trying to act like coaches and living it over through their kids. Justus, Derek and Almari i wish your dads would come to texas and talk that shit we would bury those assholes.

  • Seeme Incali

    These parents are clowns. TV doesn’t usually affect me like this, but seeing Justus and Derek really made me want to take their dads between the white lines and punish them physically the way they punish their kids mentally. Bullies and clowns that never made it themselves. Someone please find Justus’ dad….please. Apparently he is the toughest cat in California, that was an all american in football. Justus, you are a good looking kid…with the world at your fingertips. Your father is nothing more than a bully and a clown. There will be a time in your life when you can make the “manly” decision to distance yourself from an individual like this…

  • Jef Dinsmore

    It is nice to see all these are great heartfelt comments.

    I don’t know how the producers found the stories for this piece but they certainly resonate with you all. Don’t you think, though that the extreme stories were somehow found and used? I don’t believe all relationships between between kids and sports and parents are like this.

    I do wish we had more intel on how this was made.

  • skater girl

    I have seen parents like this during my figure skating career. I would see physical abuse at times but mostly mental abuse. These parents suffer from “little person” disease. These are the types of people who had children to perform in their life, how they never could in their own life. They ride their children and become obsessed with making their children succeed because they never could meet the expectation that was set for them. It is so damaging. SO DAMAGING!!!! Parents like this aren’t coaches! If they cannot make the shot, put it in the hole, land that quadruple Lutz, catch that ball, etc., then they shouldn’t be coaching. Most of the parents I saw this evening, shouldn’t be parents, period. It’s amazing that their spouse isn’t able to step in and say “enough”. Somebody needs to. This is how you pressure your children to commit suicide or kill their parent(s) and then kill themself. :(

  • Ralph Emerson

    There is no reason what so ever to even discuss whether or not Justice’s father is out of line or a bad parent. this man is obviously insane. This is a sick unbalanced man. This situation is a case of bulling plain and simple. This is not a case of an over controlling father this is a case of child abuse. This father needs therapy. I honestly believe that Child Protective Services need to look into this situation. Watching the way this man treats his son actually makes my sick to my stomach. Watching someone bully and abuse a child in this manner pushes a button in me! He is obviously acting out an inferiority complex that he has from personal failures of his past. Like they say, you need a license before you can drive a car but anybody can be allowed to have children,

    • Lynne

      My thought exactly. I wanted to jump through the screen and punch him dead in the mouth for degrading his boy like that. Shame on him! Poor excuse for a father. So much pressure and mental abuse is affecting this boy. I couldn’t believe the lady driving the car was his mom and that she just sat there and let him verbally attack that poor kid for doing what normal teenage boys do….text their little girlfriends. That man needs anger management or jail. Learn how to be a father instead of trying to act like a coach. If u knew so much, you’d be a football God. Get over yourself & let your son freaking breathe. I’m sure he resents you and has lost his passion for football thanks to you barking in his ear every second of the day.

      • Dad’s Reply

        Lynne – Josh’s treatment of his son is WAY out of line, I whole-heartedly agree, but texting during a life-lesson conversation from your father is out of line as well. It’s interesting that the moms on this board are appalled by the rough behavior by over-bearing dads, but when a son disrespects women, then the dad’s to blame too. You can’t have it both ways: either a boy will be taught to be respectful of all things or he won’t, there is no in-between. Give us some ability to oversee raising our boys to be respectful young men!

        • Pam0626

          What positive life-lessons about respect do you think this abusive father could possibly teach his son? Hard as it was, I forced myself to re-watch the scene you are referring to, and Justus was not out of line in the least! He was texting his girlfriend way before the dad started his rant and then proceeded to goad his son to the point of tears by saying, quote, “What’s the point in having a girlfriend anyway, she’s just going to dump you”. Justus was embarrassed and scared, and resumed his texting as a defense mechanism to block out his dad.

          • Dad’s Reply

            You’re enabling my point exactly, thank you. BTW – how many High School boyfriends did you dump, how many did you Marry? That father, while over the top for cameras, was just spitting reality to his son. Everytime a MAN does that, women get upset. Go back to living in your TV soap opera world, Pam.

          • delorest

            Thanks Pam! Justus was simply being a boy. His Dad was being abusive. I don’t think that he was performing for the cameras. He’s probably worst when the cameras aren’t rolling.

  • Wen

    My husband watched about 5 minutes of this before I demanded that he change the channel. This is nothing but MENTAL ABUSE!!!

    • John W Mancini

      So is forcing your hubby to change the channel. Maybe he was into the show and wanted to finish it. Overbearing parents = overbearing wife

      • cizzlen

        This. So true.

  • Paris

    These parents are self-absorbed, insecure, pathetic individuals who are projecting their own fear of failure on their innocent children. They are emotionally abusive and act like children themselves. I sincerely hope this documentary will open their eyes. Their good intentions are destroying their children’s confidence, one game, one match at a time.
    Justus’ father is a disgrace to Fatherhood.

    • Pam0626

      Amen to that!

  • linda420

    They living their dreams thru there children. It made me angry seeing this .

  • Sharon Shupe

    I know that these parents think they are doing the right thing for their kids but it saddens me. I seriously felt like I wanted to slap these parents! Justus’ father is horrible!!!

    • Jill

      the mom was right, Justis was afraid of his father in the scene in the car when they get back to Seattle. It was disturbing. That father used his childhood *growing up in Compton* and tried to make his son “tough”. Its a shame to see a talented young man with tons of potential being “beat down” by the ONE person he should be able to count on for support!!! I hope the father watches the airing of the episode and sees what he is doing to his son…before its too late.

      • Sharon Shupe

        I totally agree Jill. I would love to see follow up with the parent’s comments after they watch their behavior on television. I was disturbed by the little girl (golf) father threatening her as well. These parents are out of control

  • Jill

    I just can’t believe that Justis’s father talks to him that way and expects his son to respect him. I really hope the father was acting the way he did because the camera was on him. To belittle and degrade your child in the name of “toughing him up” is outrageous. Justis cried more than he spoke during the short time he had on film. The tears in his eyes was heart wrenching. I am just beyond angry at how treating their own child like that and expecting to earn their respect. SMH, this makes me sick to my stomach.

    • Bridget

      Jill I couldn’t agree w you more. I had to turn the TV off and couldn’t sleep. It was no better than if his dad were punching Justin in the face- abuse is abuse. Worse was seeing the mom just sit there and not advocate for her son. Obviously she was abused by the dad also, and is probably still under her control. Justin was trying as hard as he could to reason w his controlling father, and all his “dad” did was scream like a baby. I don’t think he deserves to be called “dad”. In my eyes Justin is so smart and brave to make the choice and remove himself from his dad’s life. I pray he has true role models in his life that show him he is worthy of love no matter what he does athletically or otherwise.

  • Anissa Harvey

    Those parents are terrible. Period. End of story. I could not believe what I just watched. All of the parents except the lady with the twins need counseling.

  • Hockey Demon

    Watching this brought back memories. I felt so bad for the kids, knowing what they went through made me cringe. I had an overbearing dad, just like the one with the little girl who golfed. I too golfed and ended up being pushed away from the sport because of him. I quit before high school, I had more trophies than I could count and couldn’t continue. He sucked the fun out of it and drove me away from the sport. He tried to do the same with softball until I was able to tell him no more.

    Do these parents have any ideas what kind of damage they are doing to their children? It’s sad to see and I hope that seeing themselves in this show will shed some light on their pathetic behavior.

  • Good coach

    Great Documentary

  • MC

    Is this online yet?

  • Father of a College Golfer

    To the golf Dad, the trophies are for kids not you. You are creating scars that will never mend with your daughter. There is a high likelihood that you have never played competitive golf, had to make a 5ft putt to win anything. My challenge to you is to count the number of times you laugh with your daughter on the course, or just let her skip a day of practice to go have little girl fun. The scholarships are there, the tour is there, but you only get one chance to be the first guy in her life, and your blowing it!

  • Lisa Goodman Stone

    here is my article for ParentingAces.com on the doc: http://parentingaces.com/holding-up-a-mirror-hbos-trophy-kids/

  • Daniel

    I really liked this documentary. I wish they would have asked the parents why they do this. Does anyone know when the next on is airing? This is a great addition to HBO!

    • Jef Dinsmore

      It was well done. I agree some better follow-up would have been appreciated. I wish one or more of hte parents would have sat in on hte roundtable afterwards.

      As for when the next installments, CULTURE SHOCK and BROKEN, air we do not know. I would say every three months we will see another episode, but that is a guess.

  • Lisa Goodman Stone

    I couldn’t sleep after watching this film either! I’m very interested to read other’s reactions. If anyone is interested in speaking with me for an upcoming piece on the ParentingAces.com website (for parents of junior tennis players), please contact me at lisa@parentingaces.com.

    • Jef Dinsmore

      I’m glad you watched it. What is your take on Blake & Tanner and their tennis regimen?

      • Lisa Goodman Stone

        their training actually looked mild compared to others i’ve seen, but we also saw them at age 14 in the film – i’m guessing things have changed now that they’re in high school.

        • Jef Dinsmore

          I only singled out their story as the basis of a question because you are involved in tennis.

          What struck me most about Blake & Tanner’s story was that they both looked pretty silent and sad as if their mother did all the speaking for them and all she was saying was “they want this” and going on about “God’s will.”

          I wasn’t convinced by their demeanor that they really did want it or, at least, the way their mother was going about it.

          • Lisa Goodman Stone

            one major thing i found missing in all the stories was the child’s point of view. not once was one of them asked on camera what THEY wanted. it would’ve been interesting to hear their answers to that question!

            in terms of blake & tanner, one of the boys looked significantly more “into it” than the other even during their practices. and, yes, i think their mom did a very good job of trying to say the right thing even though it still came across as being what SHE wanted and not what her boys wanted. you could definitely see that familiar stress on her face and hear it in her voice during their tournament matches – any parent who has a child competing, whether it be in sports or spelling or basket weaving knows the stress of wanting your child to do his/her best and hoping for the win, not necessarily for the parent’s sake but because it’s what the child has worked so hard to achieve. some parents handle that stress better than others. i’m getting better at it through sharing my experiences on my website, but i still have a very long way to go!

          • winning isn’t the only thing

            watch the long version without the commentary and you will see Justus say he would rather be happy than play football.

          • Lisa Goodman Stone

            i did see that in the extended version – thanks! but, didn’t anyone else wonder as they were watching whether these kids’ dreams were in line with their parent’s???

          • gemit2000

            I sensed that both Amari and Derek loved their sports and took pride in their accomplishments enough to hold the dream, though both felt humiliated by the way their Dads approached “their” dream. Amari’s humiliation was painful to watch because it was obviously painful to her. However you could glimpse her love of the game in the interplay between her and her swing coach who gave her the space to to appreciate her own gifts by letting her see that beautiful swing of hers through his eyes.

            Derek impressed me with his seemingly ability to maintain a healthy self-differentiation from the overbearing father by mostly laughing off his father’s antics while apparently strong enough to tell his Dad, to shut up and sit down. But perhaps we know Dad’s pressure did affect him, when we notice how Derek suddenly has his best game the first game his Dad was banished. Despite handling pressure well, what a burden to know your parents have spent a couple of hundred thousand toward the single goal of you earning a scholarship to a Division I school, especially unfair because part of the growth you’re supposed to achieve is actual physical growth (makes me wonder if somewhere along the line Steve succumbed to the pressure and slipped in some growth hormone along with the dozens of nutritional supplements or perhaps went the old fashioned route and just bought Derek “the rack”) .

            The extended version did make it clear that even if Justus had once shared his Dad’s dream, it had been mentally beaten out of him. I felt relieved when he went back to Mom’s where he could breathe again (I’m imagining him rebelling even further since then and becoming a ballet dancer). Did you notice the contradiction in Dad demanding Justus be “man” enough to stand up to the opposition and stand up to his coach, yet never allowing any standing up to him (like Derek had to Steve). He was not even allowed to ‘stand down’ when trying to decline participation in an abusive one sided conversation in the car. To become a man one also needs to stand up to bullies but Justus was trapped since he was being taught to become a man by a bully (can you say The Great Santini).
            The twins both baffled and amazed me in that It’s clear they liked tennis and were willing to work to maximize their talent, but with their “God”-given temperament seemed to be fine with however their life paths happened to lead them which included accepting Mom’s guidance with a knowing of how much she had psychologically invested in this endeavor even though they had less (I did once think I detected the slightest little eye roll from them while listening to their Mom or perhaps that was just me projecting).
            I was also baffled and amazed by this film. Baffled by why the parents consented to be shown yet amazed at the irony in how so much of the adult behavior was juvenile and in conflict with what it takes to be a champion. I’m sure I was more engrossed by this film being for a long time on the front lines as a school counselor and realized I was not in ‘counseling shape’ the next day being quite sore from having way over-used my wincing muscles.

          • Mary Ann

            Cried when I saw it. Brought back memories. Wanted my son to be the first to go to college in the family. Thought by getting him interested in basketball, sending him to camps it would help him get there. I was wrong…. most valuable player in high school and he not want to play college ball. Broke my heart. He did not love it…… that makes a difference.
            Basketball kept him out of trouble for 4 years. But till this day I always wonder what could have been.

          • Runner

            Poor Mary Ann still don’t get it.

          • Mary Ann

            Runner, Yes I do get it. I learned that getting your child into sports is a great way for them to stay out of trouble.
            That was my intent. He did graduate from high school.
            I think basketball kept him in school.
            At the end…… he did not love the game as much as I thought he did…… that is the end of the story.
            As a parent I can say I tried ( I thought ) for him to have a better life if he went to college. I learned you can bring the horse to the water but you cannot make him drink it.
            I was not like the parents on tv. I was just happy to see him play. Some parents never get involved with their child and that is not right either.
            So what does a parent do?

          • Runner

            I’m just becoming a parent so I am not judging you personally on your parental parenting forte. What I am suggesting is that he probably showed signs of not being interested in basketball way before he decided not to play college ball.

            Personally I did’t want to go to college right out of high school because I had no idea of what I wanted to do next. My parents asked me to go to technical school (no interest) so I went to 4 year school and practically was kicked out (not referring to academic kicked out either). years later I went back to school, model student, and currently working on a graduate degree. Knowing my story I would hope my son does want college right out of high school, but if he wants peace corps, go visiting Tibetan monks, fishing in Alaska (which is what I really wanted to do out of high-school to get away from my environment) I hope I have the wisdom to allow him to do so.

            Life is too short to make too many mistakes or live someone else dream.

          • Puckhead

            I am now an adult who was at one point a child of an obsessed dad that made sure I was a hockey nut. I made it to to the NHL (didn’t stay long), but that wasn’t my or my dads dream. He drove me to drive myself, not to be a pro but to be a man that worked my ass of and gave everything I had, no excuses. I now have two kids, a girl that my wife let quit sports, what a mistake, and a son that plays all types of sports. I encourage (to put it lightly) my son to play all out every time he is in a game or practicing, or doing school work. I actually don’t care if he doesn’t win or get good grades, as along as he gave everything he had. He is smart enough and a good enough athlete to know that when he loses or doesn’t do well, it is black and white as to whether the other guy is better or he didn’t try enough, which I am happy to say now drives him to try harder. Will he make a D1 team or pros? He has the genes (dad, grandpa and uncles are D1 and have some pro puck experiences) but it is his decision as to whether he wants to put in the time and energy, I have shown him what it takes to be successful, he needs to decide and commit, can’t come from me.

          • tblack301

            I agree with you Jef. While their mother did not verbally abuse or physically abuses them she basically let “God” punish them. So if they failed at tennis they failed at like or deserved to fail due to poor living. They like the child playing football seemed neutered emotionally. Everyone one of these parents has lost site of what is really important in the lives of their children. Beyond sad.





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