A completely charming love song to Italy and to football. Now, I must admit that knowing something about football really enhanced my enjoyment of this book. Instead of a football-playing boy, my father got me - a bookish girl, but, off we would go every Friday night (high school) and Saturday (college) to see games and provide me with a proper education in case I should ever meet a football-playing boy I might want to snag and bring home. (It was the South in the 50s.) By the age of ten, I could discuss strategy and plays.
PLOT: Rick Dockery wakes up in the hospital with a nasty concussion (his third) and the news that he has single-handedly defeated the Cleveland Browns in the AFC championship game. Unfortunately, he was playing for the Browns. With quarterbacks 1 and 2 injured, third stringer Rick got his chance to play in the final minutes as the Browns held a secure lead. Not secure enough. With an angry mob storming the hospital and no visitors except his agent, Dockery flees the ignominy to Italy, heaped with scorn and shame from everyone, including his parents. The Parma Panthers are thrilled to have a real, professional quarterback help them fulfill the dream of finally defeating the Bergamo Lions and winning the Italian Football League Super Bowl. The Panthers actually love the game and play for love of the game. By the last page, Rick re-evaluates both his life and the real importance of football.
COMMENT: OK, so some passages read like a travelogue - it's Italy! And, in this ode to la bella vita, what's not to love! The food is described in yummy detail; the people are exuberant, warm and passionate about their football and life; the country is beautiful. Playing for Pizza has an endearing underdog protagonist (we all innately pull for the underdog, don't we), a great setting, and a light, fluffy plot line - molto bene!