Played at more than 250 high schools in Texas, six-man football is often the lifeblood of tiny communities around the state. In a multiplatform presentation launching today, SC Featured explores the games, towns, and people of the unique sport.
“6-Man” will be a one-hour SC Featured special airing Sunday, Aug. 6, at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2. A shorter version will debut on Sunday’s 10 a.m. ET SportsCenter and re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
– Scott Harves
ESPN Features Unit
Scott Harves, a producer in the ESPN Features Unit, became fascinated with the sport a few years ago. The interest, he says, was mainly because he’d never heard of it. So he began researching.
“The more I read about it, the more it fascinated me, just from the sports perspective,” Harves said. “Not to mention just how small some of the towns are where it’s played.
“So I knew about it for a few years, but it took me a while to develop how we might want to tell that story,” he said. “How I ultimately came to the decision was finding some unique stories just within the landscape of six-man football, and I started researching the different teams and towns that it was played in and looking for stories. And it wasn’t hard to find good stories.”
Concentrating on five public schools that play in the state’s smallest classification, Harves and his crew made eight trips to Texas between August and December of 2016. Getting to the towns (Calvert, Mt. Calm, Richland Springs, Harrold, Balmorhea) required many hours of driving as none were close to major airports.
Along the way, Harves met many Texans not familiar with the sport.
“Everyone knows about Friday Night Lights, everyone knows about these multimillion-dollar high school football stadiums in Texas, but nobody knows about six-man football,” he said. “I interviewed a coach who said he coached in Texas for 16 years before he knew six-man football even existed. Even people in Texas in the big cities don’t know about six-man football.
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“For a long time, people have not wanted to acknowledge it as real football, and there are still some that don’t,” he said. “It takes going to the games to watch it to get an understanding of how it works. Yes, it’s fewer players and a little bit different rules, but the athletes are just as fast, and they play just as hard.”
The “6-Man” presentation also includes an ESPN.com piece by senior writer Liz Merrill and the SC Featured podcast being published Saturday.
“I love telling stories, but I also like giving people a chance to see places in America that they otherwise wouldn’t see,” Harves said. “Small town America is hard; it’s a hard life. A lot of the families of the players live below the poverty line. But it’s Texas, and they love football. That is one thing that people will see when they see this.”