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Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's more important than that

Last night I finally watched "Friday Night Lights", the drama about inter-school football in Texas. I haven't seen anything that depicts quite so well how different the Americans are. The whole notion of school sports being that important is alien to us and, I imagine, to most other nations as well. No matter how seriously a school or college game may be taken here there is still somebody at some level prepared to remind us that it's only a game and that what really matters is education. Here, on the other hand, they play the final at the Astrodome and it's televised.

In the world of Permian High School and the community of Odessa, Texas, there is only one thing that matters and that's "winning State". Billy Bob Thornton plays the highly-paid coach dealing with a bunch of senior High School kids. They're allegedly seventeen. They don't look it but then again all sportsmen look older than they are because of the strain on their faces. "You've got two more quarters. Most of you will never play the game again in the rest of your lives," he says in the big scene. (It's here.) That makes you think. Maybe American rhetoric is studded with football metaphors because it's associated with a time of life when the world was full of possibilities. At the end of the film they stand in the car park and say goodbye to each other, resigned to the fact that nothing can ever be this important again.