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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Recommended Reading: "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis.

The Blind Side:  Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis has been turned into a movie starring Sandra Bullock.  I haven't seen the movie and have no idea of whether it is good or not.  I can tell you that the book is absolutely fascinating, and I highly recommend it.

The Blind Side is about football in America, and in the hands of author Michael Lewis this topic is riveting.  The football pyramid begins, of course, with the NFL.  Lewis describes how the game is played at the NFL level, the money involved there, and how those factors drive the American football scene from top to bottom.  Lewis engagingly explains how strategic developments in NFL play rippled down to change the life of one young, African-American man in Memphis, Michael Oher.

Even for those oblivious to the football scene, this story is absorbing:  Society values football talent and, for some lucky few with the right talent, mountains can be moved to get them on the field.  When we meet Michael Oher, he is a child living a chaotic life.  Poor, with a mother addicted to drugs, Oher nonetheless has the right talent at the right time for playing football.  Through what seems like the slimmest bit of luck, one adult takes an interest in Michael.  As a result, Michael ends up attending a white, private, Christian school where people with money, time and interest give him an opportunity to thrive - and play sports.

You may or may not like the idea that sports are the vehicle for Michael Oher to gain the attention of adults and ultimately escape poverty.  All children deserve a childhood where they can thrive, and I think author Michael Lewis successfully makes that point.  In telling this football story, Lewis throws light on the tragic corners of discrimination, child poverty, and neglect in our country and the wonderful things that can happen to a child who lives in an environment where there is love, attention, and support.  The community must pay attention to its children.  This is not a new idea, but one that always needs reinforcement and repetition.       

The many different elements of The Blind Side, from football and Christian schools to class and racial divisions in the United States, make it an unusual and compelling work. The Blind Side is highly recommended reading.

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