You have probably heard of the hit TV show Friday Night Lights. You may also know that Friday Night Lights was a movie before it was a TV show. But it was also a book before it was a movie, and a book that has been adapted into multiple different media is probably worth rereading.
Published in 1990, Friday Night Lights (the book) is a journalist’s account of a high school football team in Texas during their 1988 season. Author H. G. Bissinger details the hopes, dreams, trials, and tribulations of the team over the course of the year.
But Friday Night Lights is not simply a sports story. It delves into the role of sports in American culture more broadly, using the football team to investigate other elements of the town, including economics, politics, racial dynamics, and more. Ultimately, that’s why sports are such fertile ground for writers: they are an avenue to discuss much more difficult themes—including the ways that sports are problematic.
This book is particularly successful at using football in this way. That’s why Sports Illustrated named the book one of the top five books about sports of all time.
It does deal with mature subject matter, so readers should be ready to address that. Common Sense Media suggests that the book is suited for readers fourteen and up, saying that it “deals frankly with racism, sexism, homophobia, underage drinking, and the glorification of sports and masculinity. Such mature themes make it a better read for older kids, and a great launchpad for discussion.”
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