Friday Night Lights

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town with an alarmingly rising crime rate and such bleak prospects that Money magazine rated it the fifth worst place to live in the United States. Football, Permian High football, was what held the town together. And hold it did, with crowds of 20,000 flocking to see games on Friday nights, and thousands watching every practice and internalizing every success and failure of the team. The Permian Panthers was no ordinary high school football team. Its win-loss record was unrivalled in the state, and the team had won five state championships. The ultimate honor for every boy in town was to play football for the Panthers. For every girl it was to become a Pepette, a cheerleader who baked cookies for the players during off days and dazzled the crowd to the tune of the school fight song on game days. In Odessa, everybody defined themselves in terms of the school football team and lived vicariously through it. So obsessed were the townspeople that they hardly raised an eyebrow when the football team chartered planes for away games at $20,000 a ride while the teachers scrounged around for money to buy textbooks and teaching materials. Bissinger's riveting narrative of Permian High's quest for the state championship is interspersed with vivid portrayals of the players, some who shine in the spotlight and others who find that they don't quite measure up when it counts. Booby Miles, an African American running back, figures that the 1988 season will be his coming-out party, a season where he will lead his school to the championship and attain his dream of playing football for a major college. Booby has so much faith in his ability that he burns a number of bridges – academic and social – in his journey. In a poignantly told chapter, we find Booby's dreams shattered as his foot is caught in the artificial turf during a game. Unable to come to terms with the loss of his athletic ability, Booby becomes a cautionary tale of football obsession gone awry. The erudite Brian...
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