February 11, 2009

Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger

Let's get this out of the way. I don't care for football. I don't watch it, I don't understand it, I don't like it. But I love Friday Night Lights, a TV series about a high school football team in small town Texas. It's an amazing show, and if you haven't seen it, you should go right out and rent, buy or borrow the first 2 seasons on DVD. 

That show was inspired by a movie, which was inspired by this book. Naturally I wanted to read it. I didn't let the blurbs on the back (ESPN: "The greatest football book of all time!") aimed at manly men dissuade me.

It's pretty good but kind of dated. The author lived in Odessa, Texas for one year in 1988 and became immersed in the lives of the football team and the whole town. The photography is candid and enlightening, but sometimes I was just too distracted by the hair. 

As with the show, I was shocked to learn about the impact that a mere high school team could have on so many people. They just go crazy for football. Imagine the craziest Canucks fans you've ever seen (or whoever your home team is), and times that intensity by a hundred. And then make it just about everyone in the entire town feeling that way. Yeah. These kids are treated like superstars and gods at the age of 18. It just goes downhill from there. 

I can't say I liked this book as much I enjoy the television show, but it being true seems to make it more important. It's a compelling read.

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