‘Friday Night Lights’: What does the term mean, and where does it come from?

The uniforms. The music. The stands. The cheers.

And the lights – oh, those Friday Night Lights.

Obviously, that term, which conjures up all the feels that come with going to a Friday night football game, refers to the giant floodlights high above the field that make the high school football game a bright spot in any town as the weekend gets rolling.

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But where did that term originate, and how did it get so popular?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where, but it was made famous in the early 1990s, and it has Texas roots.

In 1990, H.G. Bissinger published his nonfiction book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream” which followed the Permian High School Panthers' 1988 high school football season in Odessa, Texas.

Though the book was critical of the small town, it also shined a spotlight on what it means to be a small town in the U.S. that thrives on those weekly football games.

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Nobody knows that feeling better than Ch. 9 sports reporters and co-hosts of “Sports Brothers” Joe Kepner and Christian Bruey.

“My mom is a teacher at a small town in Idaho, and she would take us to games when we were little,” Kepner said. “We spent most of our time playing on and around the bleachers. But I’ll never forget what it meant to be at those games, to be part of that community. Every sport has something that makes it special, but there’s nothing quite like high school football on a Friday night.”

Bruey reports on local sports with his own Friday Night Lights experience growing up in the region.

“I grew up in a one stoplight town in North-Central Florida, and the only time everyone in our community came together was when those Friday Night Lights came on,” he said. “As a kid, we played our own football games behind the goal posts, and the only thing that stopped our games was the chance to catch the ‘big football’ as it came through the uprights following a touchdown. Those memories still stick with me today, and it’s why I love covering high school football in Central Florida.”

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“Friday Night Lights” has only continued to become more and more ingrained in our pop culture with the release of the 2004 film of the same name that adopted the series to the big screen. Then there was the hit series that ran from 2006 to 2011.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.