A lot of people already know the story of Friday Night Lights, in which a West Texas high school fights for the state football title. It started as a nonfiction book, then it became a movie (with Billy Bob Thornton as the coach) and finally a TV series. In the film, Thornton tells his team that to win state, they'll have to beat "a team of monsters" from Carter High School in Dallas (which they fail to do).
Carter High School is really an afterthought in Friday Night Lights -- the evil, thug-like team that stole a championship. But if you look at the real team's journey to the 1988 state title, you'll find a story about race and the pressures young athletes face — a story Adam Hootnick explores in his documentary What Carter Lost.
"The number of scholarships they got, the number of guys who went on to play some form of professional football — by every measure this was one of the greats," Hootnick says of the school's reputation.
Carter served a black, middle-class neighborhood in Dallas. According to Hootnick, it was "mostly two-parent families, mostly professionals. ... The joke was the student parking lot was a heck of a lot nicer than the teacher parking lot."
But there was trouble during that season's playoffs when questions arose about a Carter player's algebra grade. The other, mostly white schools fought a legal battle to kick Carter out of the playoffs.