Friday Night Lights
I read Friday Night Lights when we living in Denver. One of my childhood friends was a teacher in Odessa and her husband was a football coach at that time, so I had a personal interest in the book. However, after reading a few pages, I became interested in the story – an interest not necessarily connected to my friend.
I was surprised to read in today’s San Antonio Express News that Friday Night Lights has been banned by the Beaumont Independent School District. Excerpt from Cary Clark’s article Stretch your mind – try reading a banned book:
Upon learning that the Beaumont Independent School District had banned the book “Friday Night Lights” from all of its schools because of its racism, sexual content and profanity I was shocked. I read that book 20 years ago when it came out. How could I have missed the sexual content?
So I’m now rereading it and looking for the racy parts that went over my head. I’m still not finding them but am renewing the pleasure of reading H.G. Bissinger’s story of Odessa, Texas’ obsession with its powerhouse high school football team, the Odessa Permian Panthers, a classic in sports reportage and one of the best books on football and small town America ever written.
It’s a pleasure tinged with guilt since the book is banned somewhere and this is Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association and other organizations. In focusing on books that have been banned or challenged across the country, Banned Books Week is a celebration of intellectual freedom and the First Amendment.
From the preface of Friday Night Lights:
“Athletics lasts for such a short period of time. It ends for people. But while it lasts, it creates this make-believe world where normal rules don’t apply. We build this false atmosphere. When it’s over and the harsh reality sets in, that’s the real joke we play on people. . . . Everybody wants to experience that superlative moment, and being an athlete can give you that. It’s Camelot for them. But there’s even life after it.”
With the kind of glory and adulation these kids received for a season of their lives, I am not sure if they were ever encouraged to understand that. As I stood in that beautiful stadium on the plains week after week, it became obvious that these kids held the town on their shoulders.
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.
Posted on September 29, 2009, in Books, Texas and tagged banned books, Beaumont Texas, Columnist Cary Clark, Friday Night Lights, H. G. Bissinger, high school football, San Antonio Express News. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.