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Review: "Just Kick It"

Mark St. Amant had such a good time playing football for the semi-pro Boston Panthers that even after he'd collected all the material he needed for the book he was writing about the experience, he kept playing.

This decision is explained by some of what's in Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player. St. Amant, who is white, met a lot of Black guys he'd otherwise never have known. He writes that their friendship gave him "a smaller Boston, and a fuller life."

Fair enough. He kept playing because he didn't want his life to revert to semi-empty.

But a lot of what goes on both on the field and along the sidelines during Panthers games should perhaps have discouraged St. Amant more than it did. Many of his teammates revel in the sort of macho posturing that's not unusual in twelve year olds, but certainly seems stupid when the men involved are in their '30s and '40s. At his worst, St. Amant himself baits the officials, even when he knows they've made the correct calls.

Toward the end of St. Amant's first season with the Panthers - the one he chronicled for the book — the coach announces that he's not going to return. "There's just been too much bullcrap this season, all the petty bickering, and selfishness, and 'me first' this and 'me first' that," he tells the players. "You guys don't respect the game, and if you're not going to take it seriously, I'm not going to waste my time."

St. Amant writes at the end of the book that he wishes he could have given his readers a storybook finish to that season, but that coach's farewell, which occurs forty pages before the conclusion of Just Kick It, will be what a lot of readers remember most clearly about St. Amant's beloved Panthers.

This program aired on October 12, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.

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