Hannibal Free Public Library

The Blind Side:
Evolution of a Game

Michael Lewis

September 28, 2011


"Lewis has such a gift for storytelling...he writes as lucidly for sports fans as for those who read him for other reasons."-Janet Maslin, New York Times

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  1. Michael Lewis suggests that when Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor came into the NFL, he changed the game -- thereby changing the perception and value of his counterpart, the left tackle. Can you think of examples in other fields, throughout history, in which someone or something has altered the rules of the “game” so dramatically?
  2. Michael Lewis argues that the position of the left tackle evolved. What other objects, positions or people have been forced to evolve as a result of external forces?
  3. When Michael Oher arrived at Briarcrest Christian, he had very little in the way of education. What in his life failed him the most? His mother? The educational system? Social services? Himself? What was the biggest obstacle to his success? What could have have done differently in his childhood -- if anything -- to avoid the educational and social void in which he found himself?
  4. Michael Oher, despite his poverty and homelessness, never joined a gang, nor did he get involved in criminal activity. Why? What stopped him from taking that path?
  5. Before coming to Briarcrest, Michael Oher had no traditional support network, yet a number of people did help him out -- by letting him sleep on their floors, bringing him to Briarcrest Christian, allowing him to enroll in the school, etc. Why did they help him?
  6. Leigh Anne Tuohy took Michael Oher in and embraced him as her son, despite his different background and race. Given similar circumstances, would you do the same?
  7. Teachers at Briarcrest discovered that Michael Oher was not stupid, but rather had trouble learning in a classroom. What does that mean? What is the difference between stupid and ignorant? Are there any things that you find difficult learning in a “standard” environment?
  8. What do you think of the fact that Michael Oher was allowed to take tests orally rather than written ones? Should schools make exceptions for students who have unique issues? Briarcrest Christian is a private school -- would a public school have the resources to operate as Briarcrest Christian did in Michael Oher’s situation?
  9. At Briarcrest, Michael Oher stood out because of his size and his unfamiliarity with the environment and social milieu. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt completely out of place or different? How did you adjust?
  10. Michael Oher’s success story was made possible, in part, because he had a talent for playing football. What if his talent had been for playing piano, or cooking, or building furniture? Would he still have been able to rise out of poverty? Why or why not? Do disadvantaged kids who are good at sports have more opportunities than kids who don’t, and if yes, is that fair -- or just fortuitous?


Adapted from http://books.wwnorton.com/books/ReadingGuidesDetail.aspx?ID=17247&CID=8283&tid=3288&tcid=