Watching the 2013 HBO documentary Trophy Kids (now on Netflix) took me back to my daughter’s 8th grade year of basketball cheer when I sat in the stands amazed at the behavior of my peers.
The basketball team was good — some of the parents — not so much. Many jeered, chided and demeaned the referees and, the way some behaved, I thought they would lose money if the team lost.
But their actions pale in comparison to parents in this documentary.
The movie follows the careers of an under-10 female golf prodigy, junior high male twin tennis stars, a high school football player and two male high school basketball stars. The film includes enough action clips to showcase just how highly skilled these young athletes are, but the real story is about the parents and how they treat the children.
All of the parents have pinned their hopes — and elements of their own unlived lives — on the backs of these young stars. Although the parental approach is different for each, ranging from a faith that God will deliver the win to a over-reliance on supplements and regimen, each parent pushes their child to do more — to reach that elusive ‘next level’ of competition.
For some parents, the ultimate goal is a free ride to a D-I college or university via a scholarship.
The athletes’ stories build slowly as their ups and downs are chronicle — and there is compelling collateral damage along the way — injuries as well as fights between parents, kids and coaches. An interview, near the end of the film, with a high school basketball coach is eye-opening as he explains what is wrong with today’s parents.
After viewing this movie you will no longer need to ponder how high school sports devolved into its current state of affairs. These parents give you an inside view of the mindset that has overtaken youth sports which will quite possibly leave you feeling like one online reviewer who wrote,
“Rarely have I been angrier than when I watched this documentary.”
Rated 5 out of 5. The movie moves at a fast clip — highlighting the athletic prowess of the athletes while showcasing the obsessive behavior of parents living vicariously through their children.