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Old 10-16-2004, 01:35 AM  
tk13 tk13 is offline
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Whitlock: Lesson of 'Friday Night Lights' still holds true

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...ts/9932934.htm

No lessons learned in 15 years

JASON WHITLOCK


I'm not sure we learned much from the book Friday Night Lights, which means we'll learn even less from the blockbuster movie that is now airing across the country.

Thursday evening I caught the movie “Friday Night Lights,” drove home and watched the real thing on ESPN2. Two Texas high school football teams, playing inside a soldout 11,000-seat stadium, squared off on national television.

After watching the movie, I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach watching Mizzou recruit Chase Daniel lead Southlake Carroll High to a 25-point romp over Denton Ryan. Celebrated author Buzz Bissinger must feel as if his 1989 opus — the book Friday Night Lights — was a waste of time.

The book was based on the 1988 season of a west Texas high school that fields a perennial football powerhouse. The book goes into great detail explaining how the pursuit of a state championship warped the values of the school and the whole town of Odessa, Texas. It chronicles the perversion of the academic system, the excessive pressure on the kids and the coaches to perform and, of course, the corruptive influence of money on the entire process.

You read the book Friday Night Lights, and you're left wondering when we're going to wake up and stop professionalizing high school sports. And then you remember that the celebrated book is 15 years old and that the problems it exposed are much more prevalent today than when Bissinger first arrived in Odessa.

High school football didn't air on national TV 15 years ago.

“We're insane about sports in this country, and I don't really get it,” Bissinger told me Thursday. “I mean, I get the fun of it, but it's not fun anymore. It's business. It's business down to 7, 8 and 9 years old. It's business.”

It's certainly big business at the high school level, and not just in Texas. Is Texas crazier about high school football than Kansas or Missouri? Yes. Is there more pressure to win in Texas and are coaches grossly overpaid? Yes. Some Texas high school coaches draw six-figure salaries just for coaching. They don't teach.

But the problems in Texas are everywhere to some degree. I'm watching Rockhurst and Liberty battle on Metro Sports as I write this column. (Hmmm. For some odd reason Rockhurst is actually throwing the ball this game to receiver D.J. Hord, the most talented player in the state.) I'm not stating that high school sports should be removed from local television. I'm saying that it's ridiculously obvious that we've gone too far in emphasizing, celebrating, promoting and pressurizing games that kids are supposed to play for fun.

No one can deny that. If you can, you need to read Friday Night Lights, or at least talk to the book's author.

“What the (heck) is the purpose of sports?” Bissinger said. “It can teach wonderful things that people use in life — teamwork, discipline, education. It seems more and more that it's only about winning. It's only about me-ism. It's only about pressure. I mean, I coached little league, and I'm embarrassed to tell you how I conducted myself — like a blithering, screaming idiot.”

When it became a national bestseller, people thought Friday Night Lights would serve as a catalyst for America slowing the process of high school sports becoming pure money-making, win-at-all-cost endeavors like college sports.

Now we should just resign ourselves to the fact that in this country football (and most sports) has just one unquestioned, truly redeeming quality.

“It brings a town together,” Bissinger said. “It brings a team together. For at least three hours on a Friday night people forget about race, they forget about issues, they forget about class. They're all in the common interest of rooting for a bunch of boys down on that field. And that's exquisite.

“Those high school football games under the Friday night lights in Odessa, Texas, were the best sporting events I've ever witnessed.”
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:37 AM   #2
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at least talk to the auther? Ya next time I run into him I'll get on that
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:40 AM   #3
Redcoats58 Redcoats58 is offline
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Without reading the article is that the movie with Billy Bob Thorton?
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Old 10-16-2004, 04:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcoats58
Without reading the article is that the movie with Billy Bob Thorton?
without reading your post


yes
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Old 10-16-2004, 04:15 AM   #5
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pound for pound billy bob thorton is the best actor ever
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Old 10-16-2004, 06:09 AM   #6
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I didn't think much of the movie. It wasn't bad. It was okay. But great? One of the best sports movies of all time? no way. I can name a few right off the top of my head that were better Hoosiers, The Longest Yard, Remember the Titans, The Natural etc
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Old 10-16-2004, 06:23 AM   #7
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As far as the issues raised in the film I have a vested interest in those issues. As some of you know my son is a 7th grader and he is one big mean tough player on defense. Nobody can block him. Been that way since he started playing. Our family is going to have to face this pressure to perform. For example. At a 7th grade football practice the other day the High School football coach came by to see him and their hot shot QB practice.

I asked the junior high coach why he was there. Thats when he told me the reason. I asked why and he said the high school coach needs to see whats in the pipeline and plan accordingly. Now, thats some pressure cooker that Coach is living under.

Thankfully my financial situation is that I will be able to send my son to college regardless of him getting a scholorship but, I'm worried about this pressure that is going to be put upon him. As an adult no biggie, but as a high school kid...it just ain't right.
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Originally Posted by MTG#10 View Post
I believe Hitler hated Jews and had a lot of them killed. I dont believe it was anywhere close to 6 million though. I'm not an anti-semite; I just think that number has been severely inflated and there is a lot of evidence that supports this belief.
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Old 10-16-2004, 08:48 AM   #8
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6 figures to be a high school coach in TX? Damn...
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:12 AM   #9
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pound for pound billy bob thorton is the best actor ever
Especially when he's knocking the bottom out of Halle Barry

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Old 10-16-2004, 09:20 AM   #10
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Our family is going to have to face this pressure to perform. For example. At a 7th grade football practice the other day the High School football coach came by to see him and their hot shot QB practice.

I asked the junior high coach why he was there. Thats when he told me the reason. I asked why and he said the high school coach needs to see whats in the pipeline and plan accordingly. Now, thats some pressure cooker that Coach is living under.
Really?

I was totally honored when the high school golf coach and the high school head football coach both paid me a visit on different occasions when I was in middle school.

I loved the pressure of performing to do my best for I didn't have the discipline to do it on my own- to this day, I still lack some discipline. If I ever felt any pressure- it was my own.

I still think its very important for kids to enjoy sports for the benefit of teamwork, exercise, education, and forming a sort of bond that you can never replace.

Maybe I was lucky for the the coaches I've had all my lifetime of junior sports were very encouraging - not pressuring....
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:21 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ali Chi3fs
6 figures to be a high school coach in TX? Damn...
I wonder how much the avg. high school teacher makes at those schools...
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by CosmicPal
Really?

I was totally honored when the high school golf coach and the high school head football coach both paid me a visit on different occasions when I was in middle school.

I loved the pressure of performing to do my best for I didn't have the discipline to do it on my own- to this day, I still lack some discipline. If I ever felt any pressure- it was my own.

I still think its very important for kids to enjoy sports for the benefit of teamwork, exercise, education, and forming a sort of bond that you can never replace.

Maybe I was lucky for the the coaches I've had all my lifetime of junior sports were very encouraging - not pressuring....
I was talking about the coach being pressured or feeling pressure that he has to plan ahead 2 years down the road. Not my son. He was very happy to hear the high school coach came to his practice. Knew who he was. Did you get a "big head" going into high school. I'm also happy to hear that these visits to middle school foorball practices by high school coaches are more common that I thought.
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I believe Hitler hated Jews and had a lot of them killed. I dont believe it was anywhere close to 6 million though. I'm not an anti-semite; I just think that number has been severely inflated and there is a lot of evidence that supports this belief.
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:53 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by BigRedChief
I was talking about the coach being pressured or feeling pressure that he has to plan ahead 2 years down the road. Not my son. He was very happy to hear the high school coach came to his practice. Knew who he was. Did you get a "big head" going into high school. I'm also happy to hear that these visits to middle school foorball practices by high school coaches are more common that I thought.
Doh!

Actually, I did get a "big head" at first- and it showed on the golf course of all places. As a matter of fact, my concentration was so off my sophomore season in golf I nearly failed to make the team. The coach was obviously quite disappointed for he'd been dreaming of a state championship ever since I stepped foot in the high school. (At least that's what he told me).

And that was the worst thing he could have told me for that WAS the pressure I endured. Once I matured my junior year and saw my own defeat- I changed, and ended up with a great many scholorship offers from various colleges and universities. But, that sophomore year I was an absolute mess, and a disgrace- due mostly to the expectations put upon me, and my "big head" going in...
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Old 10-16-2004, 10:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by CosmicPal
Doh!

Actually, I did get a "big head" at first- and it showed on the golf course of all places. As a matter of fact, my concentration was so off my sophomore season in golf I nearly failed to make the team. The coach was obviously quite disappointed for he'd been dreaming of a state championship ever since I stepped foot in the high school. (At least that's what he told me).

And that was the worst thing he could have told me for that WAS the pressure I endured. Once I matured my junior year and saw my own defeat- I changed, and ended up with a great many scholorship offers from various colleges and universities. But, that sophomore year I was an absolute mess, and a disgrace- due mostly to the expectations put upon me, and my "big head" going in...
Yeah I'm already seeing a little of that in him but its hard to tell him hes got a big head when his whole pop warner and now his 7th grade football life no ones been able to block him. So he will just have to fail/hit bottom before he gets past the "big head" issue?
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I believe Hitler hated Jews and had a lot of them killed. I dont believe it was anywhere close to 6 million though. I'm not an anti-semite; I just think that number has been severely inflated and there is a lot of evidence that supports this belief.
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Old 10-16-2004, 10:18 AM   #15
CosmicPal CosmicPal is offline
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Originally Posted by BigRedChief
Yeah I'm already seeing a little of that in him but its hard to tell him hes got a big head when his whole pop warner and now his 7th grade football life no ones been able to block him. So he will just have to fail/hit bottom before he gets past the "big head" issue?
It will change when he gets to high school- someone will knock him clear on his azz and he'll realize the talent has caught up to him. When he reaches the day of realization that the talent level around him is much improved- he'll start to focus on improving. For now, let him build up all the confidence he can muster. You can always change the ego into confidence.

I'll be leaving soon to watch my nephew play football- he has this kid on his team that is absolutely amazing. It blows me away to watch this kid. He's their starting RB and scores on 90% of his sweeps, juking and weaving his way down the field- and if anyone gets in front of him- major mistake- he bowls them over. He is going to seriously hurt some kid in one of these games. He's their placekicker, and is- get this- the first one down every single time to make a crushing tackle on the returner. He's their middle linebacker and makes consistent blows in the backfield disrupting nearly every play.

None of that really sounds surprising for all junior players have a player of that caliber.

But, what sets this kid apart is his incredible talent- he's very mature for his age and really could be playing high school football right now. He's nearly the tallest kid on the team with tremendous body strength for a middle school kid.

If I was a high school coach in Castle Rock, Colorado- You better be reading what I just wrote.
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