Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu on Muslim high school football players.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 92 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This documentary film shows through discussion and example how Muslim Americans are as hardworking, patriotic, and passionate about football as any other American, despite the opinions of those who wish to group all Muslim Americans as terrorists because of 9/11. Compassion, courage, and empathy are all major themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Through the prism of the local football culture of a high school in Dearborn, Michigan -- where devout Muslim players, parents, coaches, and fans pray, fast, and celebrate Muslim holidays while cheering their team to victory -- those interviewed are shown to be hardworking American citizens who love their country and believe in the sanctity of the American dream. Those interviewed and filmed clearly believe in the blue-collar work ethic of "no excuses" -- of working as hard as you can to make a living and provide a better future for your children.

Violence

News footage of one of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. While trying to get his team pumped up to play against their archrivals, a high school football coach tells his players that he wants to see people carried off the field.

Sex
Language

Muslim Americans who once played for Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan, discuss the racial epithets rival teams said to them. Occasional profanity: "bitch," "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "jackass," and "damn."
 

Consumerism

High school football players discuss how much they crave 7-Eleven Slurpees while they're fasting during Ramadan and later are shown hanging out outside a 7-Eleven drinking said Slurpees.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football is a 2011 documentary film about a tight-knit community of Muslim Americans in Dearborn, Michigan, centered on their passion for and support of the Fordson High School football team. This is a documentary that should be viewed by all families and that hopefully will go far to challenge the opinions of those who believe Muslims cannot assimilate into American culture -- or that everyone who practices the Muslim faith is a terrorist in alliance with Al Qaeda. The film also raises interesting issues of church and state: Players are shown praying together, and the high school principal discusses the problems he faces from the school board when large numbers of students miss school due to Ramadan. Although this documentary might not be interesting for those who don't like football or sports in general, it goes far to show how Muslim Americans, a group who are often the victims of prejudice and bigotry, are just like other citizens. There is occasional profanity: "bitch," "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "jackass," and "damn."

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What's the story?

FORDSON: FAITH, FASTING, FOOTBALL shows the football players of Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan -- a high school and town that is mostly Muslim -- as they practice and prepare to take on their archrivals. The players, families, coaches, and fans are shown discussing their love of football and their love of America and the Muslim faith. Players and coaches balance the demands of football practice with the demands of keeping Ramadan holy -- fasting from sunrise to sunset -- and, along with other Muslim residents of the community, discuss the prejudice and bigotry they have experienced and how it intensified after 9/11. As the game against their archrivals looms ever closer, this prejudice and bigotry hits home when two former players are arrested under suspicion of domestic terrorism after buying dozens of cell phones with the idea of selling them at their college.

Is it any good?

This compelling documentary manages to do so much in such a short amount of time. The drama of the buildup as Fordson prepares to play their archrivals; the history of Fordson High School, Dearborn, and the settling of Arab-Americans there that goes back 100 years; the practicing of Ramadan during football season; the bigotry and prejudice experienced by those in the movie before 9/11, how it intensified after 9/11, and the challenges in balancing church and state all are thoughtfully presented throughout the film. The result is the portrait of an America all too familiar and yet, for far too many, not familiar enough.

What is extraordinary about Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football is how it shows how remarkably similar the players, coaches, families, and fans who rally around the local high school football team are to any other Midwestern community that does the same thing for their team every fall. This should come as quite a shock to those who believe that all Muslims are undercover terrorists in league with Al Qaeda and don't believe in the American way of life. For people who don't know any Muslims, the assimilation on display -- Fordson High School and Dearborn, Michigan are majority Muslim -- should come as a real eye-opener.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Muslim Americans are shown in Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football. How do they seem like any other Midwestern middle-class community? In what ways are they unique?

  • How is the bigotry this community has experienced shown in this documentary?

  • How are issues such as terrorism, the separation of church and state, and the attainability of the American dream shown and discussed in this documentary?

  • How does Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football promote compassion, courage, and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

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