I just finished reading an article in the Dec. 28 issue of the New Yorker about a high school football program in New Jersey. This article was quite one-dimensional, particularly for a magazine that prides itself on quality reporting like the New Yorker. It was nothing less than a 10,000 word booster club for high school football. The author, Ben McGrath, sings the praises of the football program at Don Bosco Prep for the discipline it instills, the teamwork it fosters and the unity it creates for an entire school and community that collectively worships the team and its coaching staff.
I was surprised that a magazine with the research and fact checking resources such as the New Yorker failed to mention another infamous New Jersey high school football program immortalized in Bernard Lefkowitz’s 1998 book Our Guys. This high school football team was similarly worshiped and boosted even when several members on the team were accused of gang raping a mentally retarded girl. The book chronicles how the community of Glen Ridge, New Jersey rallied behind their guys while turning against the victim and her family – even as the evidence showed the boys were clearly guilty. This book shows the dark side that can result when a group of young men is unilaterally turned into kings – an all too frequent consequence of our nation’s football worship that the New Yorker seems to have conveniently forgotten.