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“Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream” is a non-fiction book that was written by H. G. Bissinger. The book was first published in the year 1990 by Addison-Wesley Publishers Company. The book majorly focuses on a football team known as “Panthers” from Permian High School in Odessa, Texas.
The team worked hard to meet the state’s demands of winning the championship. Bissinger’s intention with the book was to present an account of how a high school football team brought unity in a small town. However, he ended up criticizing about life in Odessa town where there was “the ugliest racism,” misplaced priorities and football was the center attention of the town as people ignored academics for the sake of football championships (Bissinger 95).
The book begins with the end of the season for Permian’s regular football games against their great arch-rival Midland Lee Rebels. Bissinger then flashes back on the tribulation and trials of the team throughout that season combined with its football saga in the history of West Texas and Odessa.
Permian football role in the town is then examined. The largest social group in Odessa is Panther club. Many youths who were still in school hoped that one day they would become part of the players in the team. This is why they admired the team players and had hopes in them.
On the other hand, the majority of the number of girls in high school hoped to join Permian cheerleaders; however, the fierce competition shuttered their dreams. However, others decide to become “Pipettes” whose role is to bring gifts to players assigned to them every Friday (Bissinger 150). They are also in control of pep rallies and decorate the outer surface of homes that belong to players assigned to them.
The permian team meets with Dallas Carter, a team composed of blacks in the semi-finals in 5A playoffs. Carter has a more corrupt scheme as compared to that of Permian which makes them win against the Panthers after a hard fight in the rain. Carter is announced the winner of Texas championship. However, they are penalized for meddling with the grades hence the championship is handed over to Judson High School.
In the end, the names of senior graduates are removed from Coach Gain’s board, and a replacement is done with those of juniors who will take their place in the next league. Permian wins in the next season the following year with Stone Case a new NFL player at the quarterback. They were announced as Texas State Champions in 1989.
The theme of the Book
The major theme in the book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream” is racism. This is voiced by whites who lived in Odessa. Bissinger addresses that whites are accepted in the state of Texas because they have the potential to play football. However, when the potential is lost, they are considered as “shiftless niggers” by the white people like in the case of Boobie Miles (Bissinger 162).
This shows how intense the issue of racism was in Odessa. Another theme that is clear in the book is sportsmanship. The people of Odessa value football more than education. It’s rather they see that their team wins in the championship than loss and they will do everything to make this happen. All the mind of children in Odessa is focused on football, they hope and dream that one day they may join the team or become cheerleaders.
The setting of the Book
The story in the book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream” West Texas took place in West Texas in an oil town know as Odessa in Permian High School. Other events took place in the city of Dallas, Texas, and Midland. This was in the year 1988 when the game was played.
Characters in the Book
Boobie Miles is one of the characters in the book. He is an African-American and among the six players in Permian team. He is a fast runner, and in one of the football season, he managed to cover 1,385 yards, which showed his brilliance (Bissinger, 165). He was in high demand by major football college teams. However, his career came to an end after he suffered an injury on the knee during the pre season.
Brian Chavez has also featured in the book. He is an intelligent Hispanic football player. He is considered as valedictorian of the class he is in; however, he has a great passion for football more than studies. He was accepted by Harvard after he scored many goals in a season. The people in Odessa value him so much and consider him as a diamond among many rocks.
Mike Winchell is Panther’s quarterback. He is, however, nerves, and this leads to him making many mistakes. He cannot handle the pressure from peers and the town. He ends up plays effective but unspectacular football (Bissinger 180). He believes that his dreams and hopes of playing football may not come true because of fear and pressure from the town and peers.
Life Lesson Learnt
What I learned from the book is that sometimes, intense pressure can make one succeed. This is because, if they do not succeed, they will face either loss their career and your family will be vandalized. Out of pressure, the black people had to work hard for them to live in Odessa. On the other hand, pressure can cause lots of damages to an individual; for example, let us take the case of Mike who fears pressure and believes that this could not enable reach his dreams.
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Writing Skills Learnt
The writing skills have learned from the book is the ability to write a story in the tone of the reporter as the author has done. Bissinger has perfectly combined tones differently in the book.
There is a rising and a falling tone. The high tone features where people are inside the stadium at Odessa on Friday nights to watch and cheer what they love most, and that is football. However, the fallen tone features where people lose their dreams out of criticism and pressure. Some girls could not achieve their dreams of becoming cheerleaders due to high competition.
The Best Part of the Book
What made the book enjoyable for me is Bissinger’s empathized with the American’s obsession and appetite for winning. This brought home the true identity of American’s. They can do anything for them to achieve what they want, and this is clearly emphasized by the author. Bissinger has also clearly presented the nature of white people of racism. Up to date, the issue of racism still exist among us, and this has denied many people to achieve their goals and dreams.
Bissinger, Gerald. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishers, 1990.