Friday, June 29, 2007

The Blind Side

I tried to post this last night but my internet connection kept timing out. So this is a Thursday post. I just finished this book and probably should wait to post until I've had some more time to process it. The Blind Side is really two different books--one concerns the evolution of the position of left tackle in football to one of the most valuable and highly paid positions on the field. The majority of the book is devoted to the story of Michael Oher, a black football player blessed with the physical size and gifts to become the next great left tackle. What makes Oher's story more compelling and complicated is that Oher lived basically a nomadic existence in Memphis until he is adopted by rich white couple Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. If you plan on reading the book, there are some spoilers ahead but I can't really adequately address what I thought about the book without them, so read on at your own risk. While I recognize the impact the Tuohys had on Michael's life, I found many aspects of their relationship troubling. To their credit, their interest in him began when Michael only showed promise due to his size and agility but long before he was anointed as a sure-thing NFL prospect and I don't question his acceptance as a full-fledged and loved member of their family. Michael is recruited by virtually every college football program in the country, yet chooses Ole Miss where Sean was the star point guard and Leigh Anne a cheerleader, which drew enough suspicion to send NCAA officials to investigate. Michael's academic record was woeful, not surprising due to his sporadic attendance which included an eighteen month absence. The Tuohy's interest in his academic abilities seem only targeted toward academic eligibility. They hire a tutor to work with him full-time, who is herself an Ole Miss partisan. They only have him tested for learning disabilities when they perceive it as a loophole that will allow him to take the ACT an unlimited number of times--despite the fact that his previous high score of 12 might indicate the presence of one in and of itself. Despite all the best efforts of rich white society, Michael is still in danger of not qualifying until Sean finds that he can take 10 day courses from Brigham Young to replace some of the F's on his transcript, which leads to Sean's charming line, "The Mormons may be going to hell but they really are nice people." My uneasiness with their relationship is furthered because we mostly get the story from the Tuohys (Sean is a former classmate of the author) because Micheal is very shy and reluctant to talk about himself. We never really hear from him why he chose Ole Miss (who won one game his freshman year) or how he really feels about the Tuohys. If you've read this, please chime in with your thoughts on the Michael-Tuohy relationship. I found the book to be compelling and well-written, but, since so little is actually told from Michael's perspective, it only adds to the whiff of exploitation that already exists.

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