"The promise of an empty football field is an irresistible force for those who understand and revere the game," Jeff Wilson observes. Drawn by the sense of possibility and nostalgia inherent in every stadium, Wilson traveled the state of Texas to photograph high school stadiums for a photo essay that appeared in Texas Monthly in August 2005. The magazine's readers responded with an outpouring of enthusiasm, and Wilson's photo essay was nominated for a prestigious National Magazine Award.
In Home Field, Wilson creates a unique photo portrait of nearly eighty Texas high school football stadiums, ranging from the bright lights, artificial turf, and seating for thousands at Southlake Carroll to the lone set of bleachers under the wide open sky in Veribest. Shot from the fifty-yard line facing the home stands, these photographs invite us to view each stadium from the same vantage point and experience it as an evocative place that holds a community's collective memories. Accompanying the photographs are reminiscences about the fields from players, coaches, team physicians, athletic directors, sportswriters and announcers, school superintendents, principals and teachers, band directors, maintenance workers, booster club parents, students, and fans. Their stories—whether funny, nostalgic, or poignant—reveal just how important high school football is to Texans and how it creates an unforgettable sense of community and camaraderie.
Sure to bring back memories as soon as you open the book, Home Field captures what football is supposed to be—"simple and pure, like a perfect spiral arcing gracefully across the sky."
Photographs by Jeff Wilson
Jeff Wilson has worked as a freelance photographer for media outlets including ESPN, Men's Journal, Texas Monthly, Disney, Discover, Life, the New York Times Magazine, Wired, and Houghton Mifflin. His work has appeared in prestigious American Photography Annual and the PDN 2003 photo annual. He recently had his first one-person exhibition, titled Cryptozoology.
Author of three highly acclaimed books, Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, and Three Nights in August, Buzz Bissinger is among America's most honored and distinguished writers. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, and the National Headliners Award, among other prizes.
Bobby Hawthorne is the author of Longhorn Football: An Illustrated History. From 1977 to 2005, he served in a variety of positions with the University Interscholastic League, including Director of Academics and Director of Journalism.
"A high school stadium in Texas is not simply a high school stadium in Texas but a shrine, a temple, an epicenter of small-town life more important than the Baptist church or the local barbecue joint. . . . In these pages, the legacy of the Texas high school football stadium is displayed in all its magnificence and importance. Some stadiums look as perfect as they did when they were first built. Some look a little more weathered by the ravages of time. Some are modern. Some are not. They crisscross the state as the Friday night lights always will, Dallas to Dimmitt, Houston to Happy, Fort Worth to Fredericksburg. As you look at them, the memories of what the Texas high school stadium means will go to your very roots, embedded forever in your soil. You will be profoundly moved.
I was, and I'm a damn Yankee."
—Buzz Bissinger, from the foreword