High school sports can have a tremendous effect on not only those who participate but the members of the community in which they participate. These effects can be positive, but they can also be negative. In the book Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger shows that they are often negative in communities where high school sports “keep the town alive” due to the social pressure. In this way, Friday Night Lights gives insight into the effects of high school football being the backbone of a community, revealing that the fate of the individual football players are inadvertently determined by the actions of the townspeople.
African-American players are often negatively affected due to the prevalence of racism in the town. Ivory Christian, for instance, is a born-again Christian with aspirations to be a famous evangelist, but he is unable to pursue his dream due to his commitment to the football team. Because of this, the townspeople ...view middle of the document...
This upsets many people in the town, including L.V., his uncle. As a kid, L.V. had his own dreams of playing for the Permian football team, but couldn’t because of segregation in the town which didn’t allow black residents to attend Permian. L.V. sets Boobie up for a career in football from a young age as a result. He does this in the hopes of being able to experience the dream he was never able to have himself. Unlike Ivory, however, who is aware of the negative influence these adults often have in these kids’ decisions to play football, Boobie is none the wiser and appears to be almost completely oblivious to his Uncle’s motivations; prior to his injury, he is frequently seen gloating and relishing in his glory However, Bissinger hints at tension in the relationship and offers L.V.’s need to live vicariously through his son as a reason.
The white players often find themselves in similar situations, although the pressure on these players is arguably less severe. Much like L.V., Don Billingsley’s father, Charlie, tries to live vicariously through his son. Unlike L.V., however, Charlie actually had the privilege of playing for Permian in high school and was one of the best players on the team. In order to continue the Billingsley legacy, Charlie sets the stakes high for his son, whom he views as his successor. Unfortunately, in addition to his football skills, Don also inherits his father’s prickly reputation and appetite for alcohol. On top of this, Don struggles academically. Texas state law, which states that athletes must retain an average of 70 or higher in each of their classes, leads to many teachers passing them regardless of their academic performance so that they may continue playing football. This proves to be detrimental to not only Don, but all of the seniors when they are suddenly expected to make a living for themselves at the end of the season. Because the priorities of the town are so misguided, however, many of the players missed the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to succeed in life* Football was the only structure they had in their lives and now that the structure is gone they are good for nothing because they were never challenged off the football field.