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football, tv drama, and morality

Put On

I’ve been watching the DVDs of NBC’s Friday Night Lights (just the first season) with my older sons.  I’ve been strangely drawn to this series, which chronicles the adventures of a football-obsessed Texas town that is hauntingly familiar.   Actually, I didn’t grow up in Texas, we weren’t that good at football, and our lives weren’t quite so dramatic, but some of the antics and characters in this town hit home.   It’s rather PG-13, so I’ve been weighing whether it’s appropriate viewing material for my boys.   I think it’s definitely too mature for my 8-year old daughter.

I began to realize that almost every character makes some major moral compromise along the way, driven by history, circumstance or outside pressures.  Most of these same characters have admirable (or at least attractive) features too.  Not one person is 100% good or bad, just like real life.

My 13 year old loves the football drama and, true to character, stays silent through the “iffy” scenes.  My 11 year old yells, out loud, “NO!  Don’t do it!  Why is he/she being so stupid?” 

It quickly became clear these films were a golden opportunity to discuss important issues with my teen and tween, because it won’t be so long before they have access to these temptations.  I don’t want to risk them thinking the choices are just what any other teenager would (or, God forbid, should) do.  But I do want them to see how easy it is to fall prey to bad decisions in certain situations.  I also want them to understand what leads to such choices, for a couple of reasons:

  1. So they can make good judgments on their own, when they won’t be asking my advice
  2. So they might have some understanding and compassion for people who make mistakes

So, along the football theme, I’ve decided to look at this series something like a team reviews game clips.  We’ll view each episode and then talk about the following:

  1. What characters did you admire (or not) in that episode?  Why? 
  2. Why do you think ________ made that choice?
  3. What could _____ have done differently in that situation? 
  4. What do you think you would have done? 

I’m hoping this little experiment will help my kids expand their playbook for life’s real dramas.  

What do you think?  If you have older kids, what opportunities have you used to teach life lessons?

I’ll leave you with the coach’s speech from the first pilot episode:

Creative Commons License photo credit: beX out loud

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3 comments to football, tv drama, and morality

  • Food for thought – I agree with you – these types of shows provide unique opportunities to discuss real life issues with our children. Choices, reasoning, consequences – all things we need an open dialog about with our kids. My son is 14 and we are just now allowing him to watch shows with sexual innuendo – WOW. The conversations have been excellent. And would have been SOO much more awkward without the impetus of the TV show.

    I like the actor who plays the coach in Friday Night Lights – I’ve seen him before in Early Edition (great show also).

    Julie Stiles Mills’s last blog post..shopping and waiting. with kids.

  • Mama Lacy

    Stories, TV, movies are wonderful methods for starting dialog with children because of the anonymous atmosphere. Kids can sound off withoout admitting that they have an interest. I learned a lot from my kids when I listened to them during these discussions.

  • pam

    Julie,
    I’m impressed by your commitment to wait until your son was older. I’m finding birth order is such a hard thing to work around, so my younger ones get exposed to things a little earlier. I’ve decided to manage it intentionally as much as I can rather than just letting him absorb things accidentally.
    Nice to know it has generated great conversations for you.

    Mama Lacy,
    Isn’t it great how much we learn from our kids when we think we’re teaching them?

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