The tingling sensation stayed with him, and he knew that when he stepped on that field tonight he wouldn’t feel like a football player at all but like someone . . . entering a glittering, barbaric arena.
Jerrod is preparing for a "big game," and Bissinger goes to great lengths to show that, for the Panthers, each game is bigger than the next. Football, for these high school juniors and seniors, is… (128 more words in this explanation)
Boobie stood in the corner of the darkened room with his arms folded . . . ‘I quit, coach, they got a good season goin’.’
Boobie is upset that his season might be over, and that he won't get a chance to prove himself on the field because of his injury. Football has helped Boobie to escape a difficult childhood… (140 more words in this explanation)
There were a few who found its conservatism maddening and dangerous and many more who found it the essence of what America should be, an America built on strength and the spirit of individualism, not an America built on handouts and food stamps.
Here, Bissinger applies the "boom-bust" mentality of the Permian football team—where winning is everything—to the economic situation of the Odessa region, and of Texas more broadly. Oil wealth is built on prospecting. It's based on… (118 more words in this explanation)
The fans clutched in their hands the 1988 Permian football yearbook, published annually by the booster club . . . It ran 224 pages, had 513 individual advertisements, and raised $20,000.
The football yearbook is another physical example of the centrality of Permian football to the Odessa community. When the team wins, fans remember those players forever, and the yearbook is enormous with ads for businesses… (107 more words in this explanation)
The standing ovation that he received at the Watermelon Feed wasn’t particularly surprising. Just as he was used to football injuries, he was also used to lavish attention, as was every former Permian player who had once been ordained a star. So many people had come up to him when he was a senior that he couldn’t keep track of their names . . . .
Shawn Crow is an old star for the Permian Panthers—not old in years, but barely a year past his prime, and therefore too old to compete on the field. Although his team was successful, Crow… (129 more words in this explanation)
My last year . . . I want to win State. You get your picture took and a lot of college people look at you. When you get old, you say, you know, I went to State in nineteen eighty-eight.
Boobie is repeating what is, for the players, a common refrain: that winning the state championships would be a crowning achievement in life. Boobie says this because, it must be admitted, he wants some of… (155 more words in this explanation)
I won’t be able to play college football, man . . . It’s real important. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I want to make it in the pros . . . .
This is an extension of Boobie's desires as expressed in the quotation above. For Boobie, playing in college and in the pros is a way of continuing the kind of adulation and personal affirmation he… (130 more words in this explanation)
After Billy died, Mike’s life didn’t get any easier. He had a brother who was sent to prison for stealing. At home he lived with his mother, who worked at a service station convenience store as a clerk. They didn’t have much money. . . . His mother was enormously quiet and reserved, almost like a phantom. Coach Gaines, who spent almost as much time dealing with parents as he did with the players, had never met her.
Bissinger moves on to describe the physical, emotional, and financial deprivations of another member of the Permian Panthers. For Mike Winchell, life has more or less always been difficult. Football, though it seems brutal from… (147 more words in this explanation)
I’ve spilt more whiskey than most people have drunk . . . I wouldn’t have married a couple of girls I married . . . .
Charlie Billingsley is the great example of the hard-drinking, hard-living former football player—the person for whom life ceases to grow after high school, after the Panthers. Bissinger uses Charlie not to make fun of him… (91 more words in this explanation)
It wasn’t necessary to live in Odessa for long to realize that the Permian football team wasn’t just a high school team but a sacrosanct white institution. “Mojo seemed to have a mystical charm to it,” Hurd said.
Hurd points to an important component of the "Mojo" experience—that it is reserved primarily for white fans. This does not mean that black players can't participate and help the team. Indeed, coaches are all too… (104 more words in this explanation)
Pastor Hanson welcomed Ivory’s conversion. He knew that Ivory was an influential kid whose actions made a tremendous impression on his peers. But there was something worrisome about it, and he didn’t want Ivory moving from one world of isolation into another where the only difference was the level of standards.
Pastor Hanson recognizes that Ivory's religious feeling is genuine. But he also knows that Permian football players are accustomed to all manner of "special treatment"—they are celebrities in the community. Ivory's desire to become a… (102 more words in this explanation)
They would still be gladiators, the ones who were envied by everyone else . . . who got the best girls and laughed the loudest and strutted so proudly through the halls of school as if it was their own wonderful, private kingdom.
Bissinger notes here that, although the team might (occasionally) lose, the allure of Permian football is powerful enough to maintain student interest. The expectation, of course, is that the team will eventually recover, and that… (126 more words in this explanation)
We know that OHS is going to be fired to the hilt and I want to match them emotion for emotion . . . It’s gonna be a big crowd. It’s an exciting game. I wish everybody that has an opportunity to play the gam of football all over the United States had an opportunity to play in a game like this. You’re part of a select group.
Gary Gaines wants to make sure his players understand the importance of the crosstown rivalry game with Odessa High. Permian has long been the football power in the community, drawing players from the generally wealthier… (109 more words in this explanation)
The Mojo mystique was purely an east-side creation, and Permian supporters would almost certainly put up a hellacious fight if they were suddenly told they had to share it with people who didn’t act like them or think like them.
Bissinger underscores here just how "imagined" the community of Permian football really is. It belongs not to the entirety of Odessa but only to the wealthier east side of town—and there have been rumblings that… (116 more words in this explanation)
When Tony was Brian’s age, the thought of college, any college, was as funny as it was ridiculous. Just getting through high school was miracle enough, and the way Tony and most other kids from South El Paso looked at it, everything after that in life was gravy, a gift.
Tony, Brian's father, grew up in relative poverty near El Paso, Texas. For him, as Bissinger relates, education was something largely reserved for white families. Tony had to work extra hard merely to find for… (126 more words in this explanation)
For LV, watching Boobie play against Abilene had been harrowing. On every play he couldn’t help but worry that his nephew would do further damage to his knee, even though the brace did provide good protection. He saw the emotional effect the injury was having on Boobie—the prolonged periods of depression as one Friday night after another just came and went.
LV understands that football, and then the lack of football, have severe emotional effects on Boobie. Boobie was immensely successful at a very young age, and was injured according to a stroke of bad luck—there… (141 more words in this explanation)
There is no question the banks were tantamount to prostitutes during the boom.
Bissinger makes no bones about criticizing the banking and oil industries in West Texas. He believes that these industries rely on government subsidies and "handouts," then decry these same "handouts" when they are given to… (119 more words in this explanation)
His ear had been throbbing for about two months, and it was just one of several ailments that had come up during the course of the season. He was glassy-eyed and barely able to say a word, his thoughts still fixed on what had happened on the field . . . .
In many ways, Gary Gaines has a good job—he is paid well for what he does, and his name is known throughout the community. But being the head coach of the Permian Panthers comes with… (98 more words in this explanation)
How could he have called the plays he did? What had happened to him in the second half, going time and time again with those plodding, thudding sweeps? Didn’t he remember the gorgeous bomb Winchell had thrown in the second quarter, so perfect it was like something in a dream? . . . .
In this section, Bissinger imitates the complaints that Permian fans might lodge against Gaines when the game does not go his way. This is how coaching is difficult: fans, who do not have an immediate… (111 more words in this explanation)
As he tried to console them, there came a sound of high school football as familiar as the cheering, as familiar as the unabashed blare of the band . . . it was the sound of teenage boys weeping uncontrollably over a segment of their lives that they knew had just ended forever.
Bissinger notes that the cruelty of the football season and its dependence on sheer luck can be understood physically in the form of the coin toss to determine playoff participants (in the case of a… (117 more words in this explanation)
Dear God, we’re thankful for this day, we’re thankful for this opportunity you’ve given us to display the talent that you’ve blessed us with. Heavenly Father, we thank you for these men and these black jersies, tank you for the ability that you’ve given ‘em and the character that you’ve given ‘em.
Coach Gaines here argues that it is indeed a divine blessing to be able to coach for, play for, and root for the Permian Panthers. Bissinger takes this relationship between religion and football seriously. He… (153 more words in this explanation)
I’d give anything to go back out there.
This admission, on the part of older players, points to another central feature of the text: the fact that even those who have been injured by the game, or left behind when they could not… (116 more words in this explanation)
Will Bates was drummed out of Carter and reassigned to teach industrial arts in a middle school. He was given an unsatisfactory evaluation rating, placed on probation for a year, and had his salary frozen. And, of course, he was forbidden to teach and to prevent further threats to the sanctity of football.
Bissinger is perhaps most critical in this chapter of the book—critical of a competitive football culture that he believes can destroy people's lives. Will Bates has done nothing other than what he believes to be… (100 more words in this explanation)
The season had ended, but another one had begun. People everywhere, young and old, were already dreaming of heroes.
Bissinger here identifies what he understands to be the cyclical nature of football in Texas. Every year, new players will come up - some will have promise, and some will deliver on that promise. Some… (101 more words in this explanation)
The Permian Panthers ended the decade exactly the same way they had begun it. Two days before Christmas, they became the state football champions of Texas.
Bissinger ends the book by noting that Permian, despite high turnover among the players, can win games, and can do so effectively over long periods of time. For Texas football playes, The state title remains… (104 more words in this explanation)