Old News

The LA Times seems to think it’s found something new in a story about parents holding their kids back a grade to give them an advantage in athletics. Sorry! That’s old news in Texas, as recounted in the 1990 book Friday Night Lights. It’s the story of the religious fervor that surrounds high school football in the town of Odessa, Texas and includes reports of parents in many football crazed communities around the state holding their kids back a year in middle or even elementary school to let them get bigger and have a better chance of making the team.

During the 1988-89 school year, a reporter named H.G. Bissinger lived in Odessa and got to know many of the students, teacher and town people. In the book he writes about how the fortunes of the team (not especially good that season) greatly influenced the mental health of the students, their families and the town itself. The movie version starring Billy Bob Thornton is supposed to be released in October but I highly recommend reading the book. It’s a fascinating story written with honesty but also a great deal of compassion by an outsider living in what at times seems to be a completely different culture.