by Jerry Spinelli (1996)
Middle-school football star/bully learns what's really important in life.
Being in sports, and being a guy, all my life I can definitely recognize "Crash" Coogan and his alpha male jock friends. Now as a coach and parent I see how we reinforce the ego-driven outlook the physically talented are taught to have from an early age. It's almost natural, probably part of a deeper, hunter/warrior society-centered instinct to praise and follow the one who can knock over the most mastadons. The first students that get noticed are usually the bigger and faster kids on the playground.
This story follows a star athlete as his family and neighbor/classmate get him to think about other things in life than himself and being popular (pacifism, nature, death); I wish there would have been more to the book at the "end" of his story, his conversion to a nice guy was wrapped up all too quick.