Blame it on the oppressive heat that makes fall seem like an impossible dream or blame the past year and half that’s made everything normal feel like an impossible dream, but I was momentarily confused then momentarily choked up by the sight of tailgaters in the Salem Football Stadium parking lot last Friday evening. Putting aside what we now know about concussions and CTE, as well as all of our other current concerns, there is something irresistibly appealing and nostalgia-provoking about the quintessential American tradition that is high school football.
If you can’t make it to any real games but long for the glory and heartbreak – the drama, action, and pageantry of high school game night – check out Friday Night Lights, the book, the movie based on the book, or the television show inspired by the book.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (1990) by H.G. Bissinger follows the 1988 season of the real-life Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas. The story focuses on the football team but, in the process, reveals the racial and social inequities and economic fluctuations typical of many small towns in America.
The TV show Friday Night Lights is all high drama and action – a soap opera with sports. It ran for five seasons on NBC, beginning in 2006, and starred Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor of the fictional Dillon Panthers of Dillon, TX and Connie Britton as Tami Taylor, America’s favorite mom, wife, and all-around font of wisdom and shoulder to cry on. Michael B. Jordan, Minka Kelly, Jesse Plemons, and Taylor Kitsch got their breakthrough roles on the show.
Friday Night Lights, the 2004 movie, is based directly on the book. Billy Bob Thornton portrays the real Odessa Panthers coach Gary Gaines and Derek Luke (of Antwone Fisher fame) is team star Boobie Miles, whose preseason injury plays an important part in the book and movie. (Bonus trivia: Boobie Miles played semi-professional football in Culpepper, Virginia.)
Pull out your pom-poms, grab a snack, and get ready to get R.O.W.D.I.E.!
- Sarah V., Senior Library Assistant
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