EXCERPT AND INTERVIEW
This captivating, character-rich story is set against the back-drop of one of the most pressing questions in sports: Should we let our sons play football? At the high end of America’s most popular game is the glittering NFL, a fan-stoked money machine and also an opaque enterprise under scrutiny for the physical dangers imposed on its players. Then there’s high school football, unrivaled for the crucial life lessons it imparts-discipline, leadership, cooperation, humility, perseverance-yet also a brain-rattling, bone-breaking game whose consequences are at best misunderstood, and, at the very worst, deadly. What is the parent of a young athlete to make of that?
The New Rochelle High School team in suburban New York is like many across the country: a source of civic pride, a manhood workshop for a revered coach and an emotional proving ground for boys of widely different backgrounds. In the fall of 2014, New Rochelle’s season unfolded alongside watershed NFL head injury revelations and domestic abuse cases (remember Ray Rice?), as well as fatalities on nearby fields.
The dramatic story of that season, for players, parents and coaches, underscores fundamental questions. Are football’s inherent risks so great that the sport may not survive as we know it? Or are those risks worth the rewards that the game continues to bestow, and that can stay with a young man for a lifetime?
Praise for Lasting Impact
"This riveting story about a high school football team is more than just the intriguing tale of a season. It's also the crucial examination of America's passion for our true national pastime, football."- Christine Brennan, USA Today
"Takes the energy of Friday Night Lights to a new stage and shows us what comes from playing the game at the center of a great moral debate."- Touré
"We've read about concussions and worse in the NFL and colleges, and now Kostya Kennedy examines the game at a high school rich in pride, tradition and battle scars. He paints a thoughtful, big-hearted picture of an old-school coach, players whose passion can overwhelm their judgment, second-guessing parents and yesterday's heroes, ranging from a violinist to a convict. 'Make your moment memorable,' one alum tells the team. It is Kennedy, however, who does the most with that advice."- John Schulian, editor of Football: Great Writing About the National Sport