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Revisiting Texas Football

After Friday Night Lights, by Buzz Bissinger

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image via hollywoodreporter.com

 

On a hot afternoon visit to Starbuck’s for a Frappuccino, I picked up one of their Apple gimmes, this time for a free e-book – Bissinger’s.

First: this sort of freebie is a good marketing tool; I picked it up because it’s a book and was free. After reading it, I’ll no doubt read Friday Night Lights, Bissinger’s most famous work, the source of a movie and a TV series. For those in the dark regarding Texas high school football and/or completely indifferent, FNL was something of an expose on the inordinate emphasis football has in the lives of Texans. Consequently it made Bissinger, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, persona non grata for many Texans. 

 

A central part of the story of FNL was a supremely talented black player, Boobie Miles. At one point during Miles’ high school career, he blew out a knee, was discouraged from surgery, and was replaced on the team by another player. Consequently, Boobie’s gridiron dreams fell to ashes. The aftermath of this personal bring-down is Bissinger’s story in After Friday Night Lights

Written some quarter century after the original, Bissinger resumes an acquaintance with Miles, Miles' post-football life a matrix of problems. Bissinger bails out Boobie where possible, but the ex-football phenom makes life difficult for all around him, including Bissinger. 

Bissinger’s writing here is tough, unsparing, yet sympathetic. You get a strong sense of his empathy for Boobie, yet his frustration with him. The e-book is short – hardly more than an overlong short story, but it’s as compelling a piece of journalism as you’ll read. 

 

I’d check it out – even if you have to pay for it – the writing and the story are both worth it.

 

My rating: 18 of 20 stars