Book #31 of 2020 | Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

Title: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

Author: H.G. Bissinger

Thoughts: I! Miss! Sports! I love sports and I work in sports and let me tell you, it’s either a really good or really bad idea to read a book about sports while all sports are stopped and I’m not sure which it is. This is the book that inspired both the Friday Night Lights movie and TV show. One of the things I love about sports is the way they build communities; communities are formed around a team or a school and the Permian, TX football team that this book centers on is certainly no exception. Sports can reveal the very good things about a community, but it can also expose the ugly side—and this book doesn’t shy away from exploring that either. If you’re a fan of the show for its drama, the book doesn’t have as much of that, but if you want to explore how sports intersect with race, politics, and social identity—read on!

Favorite Lines:
“As I stood in that beautiful stadium on the plains week after week, it became obvious that these kids held the town on their shoulder. Odessa is the setting for this book, but it could be anyplace in this vast land where, on a Friday night, a set of spindly stadium lights rises to the heavens to so powerfully, and so briefly, ignite the darkness.” (p. xiv)

“The people in the stands lost all sight of who they were and what they were supposed to be like, all dignity and restraint thrown aside because of these high school boys in front of them, their boys, their heroes, upon whom rested all their vicarious thrills, all their dreams. No connection in all of sports was more intimate than this one, the one between town and high school.” (p. 14-15)

“The locker room became his home, the one place where he always felt he belonged.” (p. 91)

“Permian football had become too much a part of the town and too much a part of their own lives, as intrinsic and sacred a value as religion, as politics, as making money, as raising children. That was the very nature of sports in a town like this. Football stood at the very core of what the town was about, not on the periphery. It had nothing to do with entertainment and everything to do with how people felt about themselves.” (p. 255)

“But there was still hope, because there had to be. That was the very point of it all.” (p. 350)

“Whether you play in front of a crowd of nine hundred or nineteen thousand, the experience of high school football is unlike any other, young enough to dream and still not old enough to know that most dreams never come true.” (p. 402)

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