friday night lights book
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There are delusions of grandeur fed to these boys on a regular basis. The “Watermelon Feed” is meant to instill the team with confidence. In reality, it is a pep rally is set up by the school administration to turn mere boys, many that cannot adequately write and or add numbers, into gods. The event is designed to showcase the team for that year. People attend this event like it is their civic duty of the utmost importance. Bissinger describes the atmosphere as part pep rally and part hero-worship of young gladiators. Bissinger is quick to add that there is a tradeoff for these young athletes. In exchange for broken bones and pulled tendons, they are treated like royalty in the school. The cheerleading squad, the Pepettes, hover over the players like their personal geisha girls.
Unfortunately, once their final year is done, most of these boys will simply be spit out of this machine back into the land of mortals. Perhaps a few might go onto college football scholarships but ultimately, even these will be a let down. All the boys, with the exception of Tony Chavez, will be ill equipped to handle the academic and social rigors of college life. All of them will find that, no matter how “good” they were in high school, they are disposable in college. The hero worship they felt at Permian vanishes if they should get on a college team. Without all the external stimuli and motivation, most players simply drop out of school: they see their football dreams fading away in the springtime mist.
The sad truth is that in Permian’s fifty-five year football history, only six players have tried for or made the pro leagues. Most of these boys obtain jobs in or around the oil business that will slowly tax their bodies and souls, just as the oil business had done to their fathers. When they become men, many Permian football alumni will relive their glory days through their own sons or in the stupor of a bottle.