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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Sports: 'Friday Night Lights' 

Tomorrow I intend to see the film adaptation of Buzz Bissinger's 1989 bestseller, Friday Night Lights.

I first read the book six years ago, and I've spent the past week re-reading most of it, because I wanted to comment on the book before I see and review the film. Unfortunately I just don't have the time write any in-depth posts today (ESPN has lots of detailed content if you'd like to re-familiarize yourself with the story), so I'm going to try an abbreviated preview.

Friday Night Lights hit home with me. My hometown compares in many ways with Odessa, and the football program in Temple has enjoyed much of the same success. Reading the book reminded me a lot of my own experiences watching Wildcat football as a child, and seeing a community rally around a team for ten-plus weeks each Fall.

The genius of FNL is that it tells the story of Odessa, but moreso it tells the story of Texas. On a given Friday night, you'll find that same fervor -- that same passion and pride -- in hundreds of towns across the state, all of which absolutely bleed the color that marks their team's uniforms.

I saw it up close with Permian in 1992 and 1993. A home-and-home series produced what might have been the best high school game I ever saw (Temple's 20-14 win en route to the 1992 state championship), and the atmosphere for both games was electric as you'll find in any stadium at any level.

Texas High School football, in most places, really is the magical experience that Bissinger portrays. It's often the dark reality that he dicusses, too. But altogether it's a reality that I wouldn't want to ever trade for anything.

If Peter Berg's movie is even half as impactful or moving as Bissinger's book, then Friday Night Lights should prove to be one of 2004's best movie-going experiences.


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