Shattered Dreams and Friday Night Lights
In Friday night lights: A town, a team, and a dream H. C. Bissinger recounts his observations of living in Odessa, Texas where he sees "high school sports keeping a town together, keeping it alive" (Bissinger, 1990, xi). With passion and sensitivity Bissinger records the triumphs and failings of Odessa's Permian Panthers. As a journalist Bissinger's aim is to explore the town's values about race, education, politics and the economy (Bissinger, 1990, p. xiii). Analysis of the sociological concepts emergent in Friday night lights will be examined against the rubric of functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism. Since sports pervade contemporary American culture, it has become a preferred target of study for many sociologists. A new field of specialization, the sociology of sports, emerged with intense popularity in the 1960s. Scrutiny of sports offers "unique context for the study of social processes and relationships" revealing how complex organizations operate through "controlled size" and strict "regulation of the relationships" between its diverse elements (Coakley, 1978, p. 2). This line of reasoning prompted Bissinger to take a leave of absence from his job as a newspaper editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and uproot his family by moving them to Odessa so that he could describe life in a typical small town in America immersed in sports worship. On some Friday nights when the lights flood the Permian Panthers' stadium the entire vitality of Odessa seems dependent upon the activities about to take place on the playing field.
In Social approaches to sport Pankin stresses the importance of subculture and informational pooling (Pankin, 1982, p. 109).
A subculture may be identified as a group within a society of individuals of the same age, social or economic status and ethnic background. The Permian Panthers function as a subculture with their own individualiz...