On Friday Night Lights

Man Up

The Football Mentality of Friday Night Lights

By Kiara Koenig

PEE-WEE FOOTBALL PLAYER: Mr. Street, do you think that God loves football?

JASON STREET: I think that everybody loves football.

–“Pilot” (1-1)

Everybody loves football, because football is America. It’s teamwork and preparation, toughness and determination. It’s all about pride and defending what’s ours: our house, our territory, our family. It’s about glory and respect, and leaving your mark on the record books, on the world. It’s about winning, getting paid, and getting the girl. Football separates the men from the boys and brings whole communities back from the brink.

Nice speech, right? But is it true?

To answer this question, Friday Night Lights invites us to visit Dillon, Texas. We listen to the local sports talk shows. We meet individuals like Jason Street, the golden boy with “NFL quarterback” written all over him; Luke Cafferty, who dreams of using his skills as a running back to break free of the family ranch; and Jess Merriweather, the only female in a football-crazed family.

On Friday nights, we sit in Panther stadium, surrounded by family. One row over is Grandma Saracen, who spends hours helping her grandson learn the playbook. Two rows up is Smash Williams’ mother, who works two jobs to keep her son on the field and off the street. Down below, stalking the sidelines and earning glares from coaches and officials, is Buddy Garrity, head booster, fund-raiser, and hell-raiser, who values his state championship ring more than his wedding ring.

We watch their dreams come true as a football falls out of  …

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