FORDSON: FAITH, FOOTBALL
AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
By Naazish YarKhan
The 2012 National Football League (NFL) season began with the New York Giants,
the defending Super Bowl XLVI champions, hosting the Dallas Cowboys. It will
end with the Super Bowl XLVII, the NFL’s championship game, on February 3,
2013. Much of America embraces football season with fervor that borders on
the religious. But few, if any, sporting events will be as perfect an expression of
Muslim-Americans’ dual identity as those portrayed in
Fordson: Faith, Football,
Fasting and the American Dream
). Showcasing what
it means to be a Muslim American, through the all-American lens of football,
Director Rashid Ghazi’s visually stunning documentary is as entertaining as it
is thought-provoking. It has elicited standing ovations since its release last year,
winning accolades at international film festivals and kudos from Secretary of
State, Hillary Clinton.
Shot over the last 10 days of Ramadan, the film is about a varsity football team,
the Tractors, at Fordson High School, a public school attended by many Arab
Muslims in a working class suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which has one of the
highest Arab populations in the United States. Through football, it portrays an
inter-school rivalry that goes beyond the game. When viewed by Americans and
global audiences alike, the film makes clear the extent to which Muslims are
part and parcel of the American fabric.
Films like this, according to producer Ash-har Quraishi, are an ice-breaker and
integral to initiating dialogue and furthering conversations about American
Muslims, especially in post 9/11 America. “You look at this community and see
how well they’ve been able to meld culture and patriotism. Instead of feeling
sorry for themselves, they were even more resilient. They didn’t want to be pre-
sented in a pitiful light. They [see] themselves as Muslims and Arabs and American,”
says Quraishi.
Muslim and non-Muslim reviewers and audiences, too, have emphasized how
necessary and significant the film is. “It opens your eyes a little so you see an-
other side,” said one review, referring to the Muslim perspectives on post-9/11
America that the film presents, a side of the story that’s rarely covered in media.
Now available on Amazon.com, if you haven’t seen it already, this is just the film
to watch with family and friends this football season.
Winter 2012
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ABOUT THE WRITER:
Naazish YarKhan is Director, Content Strategy at IFANCA and con-
tributing writer for numerous media internationally including NPR, Aramco World magazine,
Huffington Post and Common Ground News Service.
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