Mitchell (Milo Gibson) tells the team that everything depends on the Holy Trinity. By this he does not mean the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit but the three Fs: faith, family and football. He tells them that they are their brother’s keeper and blackmails them and hashtags the abbreviation #brokeep. Mitchell later explains that he once complained about the news on TV when he realized he had been called to do more than complain; he needed to do something about it.
Being the guardian of the other mainly consists of sessions where the players “talk about things that you can’t talk about at home”. They quietly listen to each other’s most painful stories and express compassion and solidarity. But as much as they speak of unity and of being “something greater than us”, we do not see brotherhood translating into specific actions on the ground or outside.
And this F for family is tricky, because the actors at the center of the story are dealing with a drugged father, a mother in prison and a brother in a gang. What does putting family at the center mean if your family is struggling? What can football do for these teenagers? Mitchell himself faces family troubles when his commitment to the police, the team and an adult gang member who wants to leave this life behind leads his wife to ask if they can ever spend some time together. without someone calling him. His young daughter asks, “If daddy protects the city, who protects us?”
A single shot from the movie version of “Friday Night Lights,” with a perfectly manicured soccer field next to a seedy high school, told us all about the vital importance of high school football in towns like Abilene. “Under the Stadium Lights” takes that for granted and expects us to, too. It’s a lot to preach to the choir. The film never questions the idea that a public high school football team would have a chaplain and everyone would kneel down to pray together before a game. He also never wonders why all the struggling players are black or Latino when all the people who guide and help them are white.