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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
H.G. Bissinger
September 17, 1990
The oil-patch town of Odessa, Texas, lives for one thing: the start of the high school football season
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September 17, 1990

Friday Night Lights

The oil-patch town of Odessa, Texas, lives for one thing: the start of the high school football season

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In biology class one day, Boobie took a seat in the back row. Instead of opening his notebook, he ripped open an envelope and read a Mailgram from University of Nebraska coach Tom Osborne wishing him luck in an upcoming game.

"O.K., phenotype and genotype," said the teacher, Barbara Skillern.

There was the sound of another rip as Boobie opened yet another letter from the University of Nebraska. The teacher lectured for about five minutes, and then it was time for the class to do a worksheet on genetic makeup.

"Where are your notes from yesterday?" she asked Boobie.

"I left 'em," he said with a smile.

"You didn't leave 'em. I watched you. You didn't take any notes." Skillern shrugged in resignation.

Boobie smiled again.

While other students casually filled in the worksheet, Boobie ate some candy. He left blank the worksheet's entire second page, which asked for definitions of certain genetic terms. He leaned against his book bag and poked his pen into the hair of the girl sitting in front of him. She smiled as if he were an endearing little brother, and he laughed. The teacher then began lecturing again in a no-nonsense style. She obviously wanted to teach the kids something. Boobie wasn't interested.

Boobie wasn't the only football player who didn't have to strain himself in the classroom. Two starters on the Permian offense, tackle Jerrod McDougal and tailback Don Billingsley, were enrolled in a course called food science and nutrition.

"This is what I do all day," said Billingsley as he sat in class and grappled with the murky issues of correct menu form and whether to put the shrimp cocktail down as an appetizer or a salad. "All I do in class is show up. They should make these classes 15 minutes long. Last year in English I had to work. This year it's like, teach me something before I go to college."

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