by Max Brantley
We love our football don't we?
In the afterglow of the Cotton Bowl, here's a recommendation — Ben McGrath in the New Yorker on a private high school in New Jersey that may be the best high school football team in the country. (Sorry, only an abstract is currently available on-line, though I think the New Yorker unlocks some stories in time.
Though the story is mostly about Don Bosco Prep and its Ironmen, it's also about the monetizing of high school football and touches on some issues that have become flash points in Arkansas. Private school recruiting, private school dominance, the costs and benefits of devotion to football, recruiters and facilitators who hang in the shadows of successful teams, recruiting and player development that begins in peewee leagues. Football has lifted some from the ghetto in Jersey and increased enrollment at Don Bosco, all led by a charismatic coach with Marine-quality conditioning regimen. It's the old story: What price glory?
ESPN, many know, is now broadcasting expensive interstate matchups of top high school teams. Wonder how Don Bosco would fare against Pulaski Academy?
It's a fascinating article, good even if you're not necessarily into football.