“Mo Better Football: An Imperiled Pop Warner Program Still Draws Middle-Class Families to Brownsville” by Albert Samaha for the Village Voice is not really about middle-class families. And it’s not really about football. It’s about people, opportunity and the character of a neighborhood. It’s about community and the transition from innocence to adolescence. And sometimes doing that when surrounded by negative influences.
But the coaches made him, told him he had to be here, had to be part of the team. They’ve known him long enough to see the changes: innocent curiosity morphing into indifferent swagger. The eyerolls. The backtalk. Over Mo Better’s 17 years, they’ve seen it hundreds of times. “One foot on the turf, one foot in the streets, ” as Vick Davis, head coach of the seven-to-nine-year-old Mitey Mites, puts it.
“It’s a turning-point age,” adds Justin Cotton, who coached at Mo Better for 15 years. “The boys have a choice: They can go with the gangs, or they can come out on this field with us.”
It’s a long form piece–very long form–with exceptional photographs and one of the best efforts I’ve seen of presenting a magazine style story on the web.