SBD/December 4, 2013/Media

HBO's "State Of Play" Documentary Series Sheds Light On Youth Sports Issues

HBO Sports' "State of Play" documentary series brings "much needed reflection and a wider lens to the sports universe," according to Brian Lowry of VARIETY. It will be "hard to top the premiere, 'Trophy Kids,' which focuses on obsessive parents pushing children to excel in various sports -- a brainier version of 'Toddlers & Tiaras,' made all the more unsettling by the participants' apparent obliviousness to how terrible they come across onscreen." If "nothing else, it should become required viewing for youth-sports leagues nationwide." "Trophy Kids" finds parents "living vicariously through their offspring in various endeavors -- golf, tennis, high-school football and basketball -- in a manner that frequently proves uncomfortable." Exec Producer Peter Berg also proved to be a "more-than-adequate moderator" during a 20-minute panel discussion following the episode. HBO already is home to "Real Sports," which is "among the few regular franchises on television to bring aggressive and serious journalism to the world of sports." Based on this "first of four installments, 'State of Play' augments that profile" (, 12/3). Berg said of the "Trophy Kids" episode, "It raises the question of how much do we push as parents? What should we reasonably expect? Where are the lines?" USA TODAY's Chris Strauss writes the series "doesn't delve too much into the back story of its subjects, showing them mostly as a composite in determining just where the line is when it comes to pushing children to succeed in the increasingly competitive arena of youth sports" (USA TODAY, 12/4).

INSIDE THE EPISODE: “Trophy Kids" opens with 37 harrowing minutes of footage, a series of cinema verite scenes focused on four parents who hope to turn their children into superstars or, at the very least, college scholarship athletes. Late in the program, one of the fathers says, “I don’t want to be that story: that dad who pushed to hard. I don’t want to be that story.” It’s too late. By agreeing to be in the documentary and behaving as badly as he does in front of the cameras, he has become that story (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).
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