High-school sports—like sports at every level—are seldom just about competition. Politics, money, ambition, and race are often as important as speed and strength. Jennings, a Sports Illustrated veteran, shadowed the football program at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the 2007 season. It wasn’t just any season; it was the fiftieth anniversary of the 1957 integration of the school. He traces the tumultuous racial machinations of the Little Rock school district through the years, noting the white migration to the suburbs and the rise of private schools, which serve as a haven for those who wish to avoid the mostly black public-school system. In this often-difficult environment, head coach Bernie Cox built a football powerhouse around discipline, accountability, citizenship, and tradition. But the anniversary year of 2007 would not be an easy one. The kids, seemingly divorced from the winning tradition, never bonded as teammates or, perhaps, were just not as talented as their predecessors. Jennings takes readers on a thoughtful, sometimes disheartening tour of urban high-school athletics, a tour that provides no answers but raises all the right questions. --Wes Lukowsky
"Carry the Rock
transcends the season-on-the-brink genre." --Wall Street Journal
"Jennings seems to epitomize the journalistic ideal that stories aren't meant to tell people what to think, they're meant to tell people what to think about." --Sync Weekly
"Unsentimental yet inspiring..."
--Joe Queenan, author of True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans and Closing Time: A Memoir"When a native son juxtaposes passion for football and the tumultuous history of race relations in
Little Rock, the result is a must-read page turner. "
--Minnijean Brown Trickey, Little Rock Nine member