The book Friday night lights: A town, a team and a Dream, written by H.G. Bissinger; was in 2003 considered the fourth greatest sports book ever written, by Sports Illustrated. The reason for the phenomenal success of the book can be attributed to a number of things including gripping story, fact based series of events, vibrant characters and ultimately the resounding message that the author delivers through the course of his narrative. Before we delve deeper into the book and its contents, it is prudent for us to note the author of the work in question and develop a sense of the body of his work. At the time of writing ?Friday night lights?, Bissinger was a full time sports reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer; the third oldest surviving newspaper in the United States. Having established itself firmly in the news print world, the Inquirer was known for its talented crew of writers and reporters. Even before reading a word from the book, the realization of the aforementioned series of facts lead most readers to already have a sense of trust and confidence in the author and his story. Also known for its sports teams besides historical attraction, the city of Philadelphia also serves as home to one of the most avid, loyal and emotional fan bases in all of professional sports. With the surrounding sports atmosphere absolutely charged, a writer would have to know what he/she are doing to be able to barely make it through. Upon conducting my research in regards to this report, I found that professionally H.G. Bissinger was above reproach and was a trusted name in the world of sports writing. Coming back to the story of the book in question, we find that the tale revolves around the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers from Odessa, Texas; a successful high school program, which was also considered the main high light of the little town of Odessa. The author goes on to not only portray the intense characters from the team and have the reader take a look into their lives, but also the general emotion, sentiment and attitude that was associated with ?Panthers? football with respect to the citizens of Odessa. As one reads on, it is evident that the purpose of Bissinger and his narrative is not to illustrate the positive and cheerful side of high school sports, but rather also the great pressure, stress and in certain cases physical duress that the players endure being part of the football team. For the town of Odessa, the Panthers are the single most important football team on the face of the planet, and the perennial quest for the ultimate title of state champions, the single most important effort in all of their lives. Although we see that the main characters of the team such as James ?Boobie? Miles and Mike Winchell, are for the most part regular high school seniors, in the world Bissinger introduces us to through his book, the reader begins to also see the hidden torment that the relentless pressure of performing and winning is weighing down on their young shoulders. Knowing all of the above information and having read the book one would imagine that the author?s thesis statement is obvious. On contraire, upon giving it further thought and analysis, the slightly confusing and painfully true point that Bissinger succeeds in revealing to us is that the book; rather than being about winning and losing games, or biographies of the teammates and previous teams; is in fact a informative, in-depth and insightful look at the overall effects of an overzealous town and team, upon its players and their lives. The team and town that Bissinger presents to us in his book is only a vehicle he uses to point out the glaring irregularities and down-right disturbing truth behind high school sports in certain parts of the country. The book ultimately makes the reader pause and rethink their attitude towards sports teams and how their behavior ultimately impacts even the most talented and well paid athletes. The town of Odessa, Texas, serves as a perfect euphemism for the attitude of the entire nation concerning sports and pursuit of the ?W?. Billinger uses all of his expertise and experience to weave an intricate plot and theme surrounding his story, which only serves the purpose of emboldening his audience and message. Competitive sports have always been considered a positive reinforcement tool for all youth. Most youngsters are hence encouraged by the system and their parents to partake in sports and team activities. Although these activities do foster constructive development of an individual; as presented and discussed by H.G.Billinger, it seems the associated process in effect at present is far inferior and lacking in horrible fashion. Rather than infuse brotherhood and teamwork as foundations for the characters of young individuals, the incessant hunger for victory and the boorish attitude adopted by the fans and coaching staff only makes for the players lives to become miserable and the focus ultimately shifts from playing the game to have fun to playing the game to win at any cost. With the development of such an attitude in all areas of sports in the United States as purported by the book Friday Night Lights and its author; it seems that our society today has somehow managed to forget what ?THE? actual point to playing and competing in any activity is.
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