Friday Night Lights

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Brazil's Most Important Matches Aren't at the World Cup

In perfect fulfillment of gender stereotypes, I don't watch sports. I'm immunized against World Cup fever. But while I won't follow the scores or watch any games, I am interested in the part of Brazilian football that has nothing to do with athleticism. Think of the American TV series Friday Night Lights. Football in small-town Texas is a metaphor for optimism. Coach Taylor's drills are about more than winning high school games. He gives both the all-American jocks and youth with criminal backgrounds the tools to win at life. For Brazilians, soccer is about hope. In fact, the sport is one of the country's most effective social programs.