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  • Painting a Picture

    Painting a Picture

    “From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone is closer to four seconds than five. One Mississippi:” This was a quote used to set the tone of the book causing it to be more than just about a football game and allowing it to have a purposeful reasoning beyond just the basics. So that it could catch a lot more peoples’ attention once people start talking. While it expressed the mindset when all that mattered were those few seconds, it also was relevant to what Oher had to process and mentally go through during the time, when not everyone else had to. 

     “The Blind Side” is a book by Michael Lewis about his NFL game against the New York Giants where one mistake leads to a career-ending disaster. But the deeper meaning behind the book that many people didn’t catch onto unless you read between the lines is that it digs into the true backstory of Michael Oher’s life before the NFL that not everyone knew about. Oher is an African American teenager from a poor family who eventually becomes a football star by retrieving help from a wealthy white family. Due to Oher not being a white teenager or being raised by white parents, caused him to be at a further point than other people that had the same dreams and goals that he did. It took him 10x the amount of energy and dedication than it did for teenagers with rich parents who were white. As you read further into the book, you will began to catch on that it explores a mixture of themes, ranging from his race to what can get you to become a professional and well know football paper. It focuses highly on race, class, and football, as well as how these three themes intersect into contemporary American society. This essay will offer a closer analysis of the book’s opening chapters, by examining the complex issues it raises and offering a crucial assessment of its intended message.

     Throughout the book, Michael Lewis presents an extremely compelling story about an African American youth who is clearly very underprivileged in comparison to his friends and teammates but because of his dedication and commitment to knowing what he wants, he manages to find a way to achieve success in football. Whether it was with the help of a wealthy white family or not. He learned that in order for him to accomplish what he wanted that getting help from a wealthy family much less a white family is what he had no choice in on the long run.  However, while the book’s overall message of compassion and generosity is admirable, it also perpetuates problematic racial and class stereotypes. Between the racial and class stereotypes, it obscured the structural inequalities and injustices that underlie the lives of people that are similar to Michael Oher.

    “Michael Oher was the biggest boy in school. He’d been the biggest boy in every school he’d been in.” (Lewis, p. 5)

    This emphasizes Michael Oher’s physical stature, which leads to everyone learning that it contributed as one of the largest key factors in his success as making it as a football player. Except, it also underscores the stereotypical notion that black men are naturally strong and 

    This highlights the generosity and compassion of the Tuohy family, who were willing to take in Michael and provide him with the support and resources he needed to succeed in life and in football. However, it also obscures the fact that such acts of charity cannot address the systemic injustices that keep many other African American youth in poverty and despair.

    “For a guy whose life had been ruined when he was a kid, Michael was shockingly devoid of self-pity.” (Lewis, p. 28)

    This quote highlights Michael’s resilience and inner strength, which enable him to overcome the many obstacles he faces in life. But on the other hand, it also reinforces the stereotype of Black people as naturally tough and uncomplaining, which can mask the deep emotional and psychological scars that racism and poverty can inflict.

    In conclusion, “The Blind Side” is a book that automatically tells a compelling story of one individual’s success against the odds. Although not many people know till after reading the book that it also perpetuates problematic racial and class stereotypes that can obscure the structural inequalities and injustices that underlie the lives of many other people like Michael Oher. While acts of individual charity and compassion are admirable, they cannot replace the need for systemic change that addresses the root causes of poverty, racism, and inequality. As such, while the book is an inspiring and heartwarming read, it is important to view it critically and to engage in deeper conversations about the complex issues it raises.

  • The Growth of a Young Soccer Player 

    After sixteen years of playing soccer, I have learned and experienced a lot from bad coaches to good coaches and even teammates. After all those experiences and with more to come, I would say they all shaped me into the type of person who hates to lose, is competitive, and if I need to be a team leader I will step and help try to lead my team. 

    There are three formative experiences that I would say helped me grow the most. The first was my eighth-grade year when I first started playing travel/club soccer for Liberty Point Soccer Club. I had a coach named Seth, a senior at Methodist University who played on their soccer team at the time. Seth was a great coach because of the way he knew and understood the game. He would point out anything wrong he noticed and help us fix it either as an individual or as a team. His coaching style was a good start on who I would become as a player and leader.  

    My second experience would be my freshman year of high school. We had a different coach for the club who I did not like because of his coaching style and his attitude or respect that he showed towards us at times. I gained some experience from him by learning what not to do or how I do or say things in a separate way when I speak to coaches or teammates. After that coach and the bad season I switched clubs to Villareal Force Academy also known as Fayetteville Soccer Club. Where I played from my sophomore year of high school to my senior year of high school.

    My third formative experience would be the one I learned from the most, I think. My junior and senior year of high school playing on the varsity soccer team at Village Christian Academy we had a lot of younger players. I gained a lot of experience from those two seasons because of younger players not being as experienced of a player as I am so as the captain and leader of the team it was my job to help them while also staying having a positive attitude which was difficult. I would say it was my most developmental experience because I had to go out of my comfort zone to yell and go up to players and talk in front of the entire team to tell them what we need to better as a team or player. During those two seasons I would really get frustrated because some of the guys on the team did not have the passion or drive that I have to win games even if we might not have a chance to win. I remember one game we were losing 2-0 to a team that we should be beating and during halftime I went up to our keeper who was a seventh grader and the coach’s son, and I said something along the lines of “hey keep your head up were still in this and next time talk to your defense so that mistakes like that do not happen.” We went on to win that game 4-2 with me scoring three goals. We went on to win the conference two games later.  

    Matthew Plyer

    Now that I am playing club soccer here at High Point and looking to play on the main team next fall, I still have a lot to learn and improve my skills and techniques. If I can play on the men’s soccer team here at HPU, I want to learn and grow as much as I can, so that whatever happens in the future, I can share my game experiences and knowledge with younger players. I have had a lot of coaches and teammates who have said a lot of different things but one thing we all have in common is our love for the game on and off the pitch.