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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Manassas in the Spotlight

In Memphis I attended Kingsbury High School, which, during my four years there, had a losing football team. One year I was the team statistician. I stood on the sidelines on consecutive Friday nights and recorded by hand, on a scrap piece of paper that I had attached to a clip board, our team's statistics for each game. After each contest was over, I went home and phoned them in to the Commercial Appeal.

I don't remember if we ever played Manassas, whose football team is the subject of a 2011 documentary titled Undefeated that has been getting a lot of attention ever since it was nominated for an Oscar. The latest issue of Sports Illustrated, for instance, contains a brief write-up about Undefeated. Manassas is in the northern part of Memphis, between Chelsea and Firestone--"an area ranked among the country's most dangerous places to live," in the words of the SI columnist. The football team has historically been a losing one, and the documentary tracks nine months in the life of the team and especially one of its players, O. C. Brown, and its volunteer head coach, Bill Courtney.

The documentary is also the subject of a brief--and uncharitable--review that appears in the February 15th edition of the Village Voice.

NPR's Talk of the Nation has also recently featured a story about the film.

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