Read Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger Free Online
Book Title: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream|
The author of the book: H.G. Bissinger
ISBN 13: 9781281919724
Edition: Da Capo Press
Date of issue: May 10th 2014
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 18.48 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 6.6
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This book is heartbreaking.
I grew up in a very liberal part of the country. My family is comprised mostly of hard-working European immigrants who value education above all else. In many ways, I should be the last person able to appreciate or understand life in small-town Texas with its conservative values and its unhealthy obsession with high school sports. Yet, I actually did attend a private junior/senior high school with a hockey program that is probably the best in the country. We won the state championship every single year of my six years there, which was in fact part of a twenty-six year streak of consecutive titles. Dozens upon dozens of students from my school have been drafted by the NHL. So perhaps the whole concept of “high school sports are the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life and enjoy it because it is all downhill from there” shouldn’t be so foreign to me after all.
But nope, it is still foreign to me. Very foreign.
This book reminds me of about a handful of John Mellencamp songs that praise the glory days of youth and that try to recall a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time and place. Mostly I feel sorry for anyone who actually identifies with any of that, as it just perpetuates the nonsense that one will spend the majority of his life with his best days behind him. To me that’s a bit pathetic. This book, though, is a complete embodiment of the Mellencamp philosophy. It is the story of the 1988 football season of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. It is the story of the town itself, insular and deeply rooted in social conservatism, unabashedly ignorant of the larger national political scene, and seriously, seriously racist. Oh my God, how racist. But above it all, town pride for its high school football team shines through—pride that is fundamental to its nature, to its identity.
No connection in all of sports was more intimate than this one, the one between town and high school.
On the surface, the intensity with which the townspeople of Odessa embrace their high school football team is rather endearing. It gives the kids something to do on a Friday night; it gives them something to work for and to be proud of. But as the author delves further, the intensity starts to seem a little grotesque. These people depend on high school football to survive. More than just an escape from the financial ruin that has set in since the Texas oil bust, high school football is the only thing that matters. They live vicariously through these teenagers, these children, as if they are somehow their only connection to anything good or right in the world. That’s a pretty heavy burden for a 17 year-old to bear. And more than that, these 17 year-olds start to believe it themselves—that there’s nothing else for them beyond high school football. They are hit in the head with this concept over and over again as very little concern is shown for their academic progress. To their peers, their teachers, their counselors, their parents, town officials, and to basically everyone else in their sheltered world, high school football is the most important thing they will ever have.
And yet as sad as this is, I found myself getting caught up in it: the excitement, the rush, the adrenaline of the game. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to glamorize something that should really only represent a small part of someone’s life, but it was easy to understand how one could get wrapped up in it. I think this book is worth reading. I think it’s important. And I don’t think you need to be a high school football fan, or even a sports fan in general, to appreciate it.
Permian High School Panthers: 1988 Football Season
vs. Palo Duro Dons — LOSS (Pre-Season)
vs. El Paso Austin — WIN
vs. Marshall Mavericks — WIN
vs. Odessa High Bronchos — WIN
vs. Midland High Bulldogs — WIN
vs. Abilene High Eagles — WIN
vs. Dallas Jesuit — WIN
vs. Cooper Cougars — WIN
vs. Midland Lee Rebels — LOSS
vs. San Angelo Central Bobcats — WIN
vs. Amarillo Tascosa Rebels — WIN (Post-Season)
vs. Andress Eagles — WIN (Post-Season)
vs. Irving Nimitz Vikings — WIN (Post-Season)
vs. Arlington Lamar Vikings — WIN (Quarter-Finals)
vs. Carter Cowboys — LOSS (Semi-Finals)
Don’t mess with Texas.
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Read information about the authorH.G. Bissinger has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the National Headliner Award, and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel for his reporting. The author has written for the television series NYPD Blue and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He lives in Philadelphia.
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