DREAMS OF GLORY by Judy Oppenheimer

DREAMS OF GLORY

A Mother's Season with Her Son's High School Football Team
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A new convert to the game of football, Oppenheimer (Private Demons, 1988) decided to observe, record, and analyze the daily activity of her son's 1988 Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School team. Like the team's season, the results are mixed. Toby, senior offensive lineman in only his second year, didn't like the idea: ``What seventeen-year-old wants his mother hanging around a locker room?'' The BCC Barons and head coach Pete White, meanwhile, felt there was reason for optimism despite going 5-5 in 1987, their best record in years. ``Win 8 in '88 and go to state!'' was the battle cry. The talent at this ethnically diverse, affluent suburban school included a 300-lb. center, a 5'-6'' Korean linebacker, a swift Jamaican running back, and an assortment of blacks, Asians, and white kids more inclined toward soccer. It wasn't always a comfortable mix. As Oppenheimer follows their progress, she scrutinizes their attitudes toward one another and the coaches, toward winning and losing, their sex lives, and their use of drugs and alcohol. Fighting off her own anxieties--``Zen and the art of football parenting''--about her son, she rarely inserts herself in the picture but allows the boys to speak in their own, often inarticulate, tiresome way: But I'm, like, okay, so I go, and he goes.... There's a disappointing opening game; a racist coach (``black kids...were more arrogant, tougher, meaner''); a bitter, injury-rife, one-point loss to rival Einstein; the boys' cockiness following the homecoming victory; and, finally, the season-ending trouncing at the hands of ``mammoth, untouchable, abandon-all-hope'' Gaithersburg. The annual banquet, despite the 4-6 record, would toast individual achievements and look toward next year. At times self-conscious and shrill (the locker room, ``a place for the ancient rites of grabass'') and at other times perceptive, but Oppenheimer never quite puts it all together. Rather like missing the point after.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-68754-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991