A football coach who’s just been elected mayor spirals out of control, and his players suffer.
Maurice is a black, Haitian boy in grade nine in an immigrant-heavy part of Toronto. He and his South Asian best friend, Vijay, both make the junior football team. Maurice, in the shadow of his superstar brother, is a coach’s favorite, but Vijay just barely makes the cut. Their teammates—especially the grade-10 player benched in favor of Maurice—resent the two. Tensions are aggravated by their coach, the white, newly elected mayor, Bob Jones, who is clearly modeled on Rob Ford. There’s no subtle descent—right after the election he’s insulting LGBTQ groups and getting kicked out of venues for public intoxication. Soon enough his team practices are beginning to resemble abuse, ethics complaints dog him, and scandals (both racial and crack-related) land him on international comedy programs. While at times Jones seems downright cartoonish, many of his antics seem to have been drawn straight from the headlines from Ford’s tenure in Toronto (right down to Ford coaching a football team). The football scenes are a little weak—lots of successful plays, light on details—but the real story takes off once the team finally concludes that the coach must go. The third-person narration is occasionally broken up by text messages and news articles.
While more politics than sports, this is fast and unafraid of issues. (Fiction. 12-16)