How did this section treat you? Are you enjoying the way that narrative is unfolding, or do you wish there was more action? I find the history sections a little boring. Do you enjoy those parts?
Bissinger didn't give a very positive view of the academic vigor of Permian High, did he? It was really sad to read chapter seven and all the descriptions of the classwork and classroom management. The food science class appeared to be the most pathetic, but some of the other classes seemed lackluster as well. I thought it was interesting how many of the teachers commented that the students at Permian weren't like students used to be. I still hear teachers say things like that, so it seems like students are constantly changing, for better or for worse. What was your impression of the descriptions of the school day? Were you surprised? Were you surprised by the way that athletes were treated in the classroom?
I was most surprised and disappointed by the descriptions of the girls who humiliated themselves to get close to the football players. The girl who carried books for the boys was especially heartbreaking for me. One of the girls mentioned in this section, Brigitte Vandeventer, the homecoming queen, has had a pretty interesting life since leaving Permian. Check out this article if you're interested to read what she's been up to.
The other parts of this section that really stood out to me were the descriptions of the extreme wealth in Midland. Could you even believe the money that was flowing through Midland? I loved the descriptions of Aaron Giebel and his five private planes and three private pilots, and the story of his scheme to breed "super cows" was pretty interesting as well.
This section finished with Permian losing another game and the town losing their minds over the loss. I could not believe the reactions of the town towards the coach. I played sports all through my life, including varsity soccer during college, but I have never experienced the level of intensity and pressure that these boys faced. I can't imagine getting "For Sale" signs in my yard after losing a game. I can't imagine writing a scathing letter to the newspaper slamming a high school coach. I can't identify with that behavior at all. Have you had experiences like this when playing a sport? Have any of you coached a sports team and faced intense scrutiny?
If you're interested to watch any videos of games from this 1988 season, check out Mojoland, a fan site for the football team created by a Permian graduate. This section has videos—the first one listed is an event that occurs in chapter 13, so I might not watch that video, but some of the others are interesting. Let me know what you think in the comments section.
I'm interested to hear what you thought of this section and if you have had any sports experiences that are similar at all to the experiences of the players in the book.
I hope you're able to finish the book before joining me next week!