Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist and this book reflects the caliber of his journalistic writing skill. While I have always heard “Football is like a religion” in Texas, Friday Night Lights truly illuminates what that means to an outsider.
What I love about this book is that Bissinger paints the complete picture of Odessa, Texas; it’s history from founding to oil boom and subsequent collapse. Without this context, it is impossible to fully understand the mania surrounding Permian football and high school football for the entire state.
Bissinger shifts from narratives following the stars of 1st team offense and defense and their personal stories to the state of the town and its struggles with socioeconomic separation, racism, and prioritization of education (both past and present). The result is an eye opening view of these people’a flaws yet at the same time instilling a sense of empathy for each player, parent, and townsman.
Let’s not forget the game itself. Bissinger earned the good fortune of not only attending each game but riding along and accessing the locker rooms with the team. He’s able to show the technical play by play for each game in the season while simultaneously revealing the emotional turbulence each kid goes through in anticipation, during, and as a result of any given game. This makes me fall harder for the sheer strategy and tactics of football while experiencing emotional attachment for players.
This is one of those books I regret having borrowed from the library as I could not underline and highlight the commentary that really stood out to me. I may consider buying a copy for myself to reread, highlight, and go back to reference.