Do you have a guide for Mike Lupica's book Game Changers?

Game Changers is a book for young readers that follows Ben McBain, who, though small, wants to be a quarterback like his NFL hero Doug Flutie. Coach O'Brien, who runs his Pop Warner team, wants his son Shawn to be quarterback, even though Shawn doesn't really like football. This pressure makes Shawn unpleasant and hurts the team, so Ben tries to befriend him. The book explores themes of resilience, friendship, being a good teammate, and the importance of role models.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Game Changers is the first of a series of sports books intended for young readers. The book is authored Mike Lupica. He's a famous sports columnist and personality. You might have read his columns for the New York Daily News or seen him on ESPN.

Game Changers is a...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Game Changers is the first of a series of sports books intended for young readers. The book is authored Mike Lupica. He's a famous sports columnist and personality. You might have read his columns for the New York Daily News or seen him on ESPN.

Game Changers is a work of fiction, but Lupica uses real-life football players in his story. Who is Ben McBain's favorite football player? It's Doug Flutie, who actually played in the NFL.

Like Flutie, Ben is small. Like Flutie, Ben wants to be a quarterback, not for an NFL team (at least not yet), but for his Pop Warner team. Unfortunately for Ben, the coach of the Pop Warner team is Coach O'Brien, father of Shawn O'Brien. O'Brien is determined to make his son the starting quarterback even if he's not as talented as Ben.

While Ben truly wants to be quarterback, Shawn is truly unexcited about the prospect of playing quarterback. It's more like Shawn is playing quarterback because it's what his father wants.

The stress of trying to meet his father's expectations makes Shawn unlikable and has an adverse impact on the team in general. To try and help Shawn and the team, Ben tries to be Shawn's friend.

Lupica's novel touches on an array of pertinent themes. He addresses what happens when parents pressure their children to be something that they don't want to be. He touches on relationships—young male relationships, specifically—and the tension between being a good teammate and being a good friend. He highlights the importance of resilience as it applies to both athletics and friendships.

Lastly, we might note how Lupica's book underscores the value of role models. Think about how Ben's awareness of Flutie helps him out with his own life. What would Ben's life be like if there was no Doug Flutie to spur him on?

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Game Changers is a great story for young readers, and one that will resonate particularly with young sports fans. It's about a young football player named Ben McBain and another boy, Shawn O'Brien, who is pressured by his father—who also happens to be the football coach—to be a quarterback.

Ben is an all-around sports lover, and is an extremely likable child who has strong relationships with his family and friends. He is part of a close circle of friends who call themselves the "Core Four", which consists of Ben, Lily, Sam and Coop.

Shawn, on the other hand, doesn't have such an easy time. He is given the position of quarterback by his father, who wants his son to follow in his own footsteps. The pressure that Shawn feels makes him a less-than-stellar quarterback. He is also mean at times, and lashes out and bullies other children.

The novel examines the impact that parental pressure puts on young lives, and provides a wholesome and exciting read for children. Above the themes of football and competition, it touches on other important themes like friendship, sportsmanship, father-son relationships, and loyalty. The ultimate message of this book is that enjoyment of the game is more important than the end result.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Game Changers centers on a young football player named Ben McBain, who is talented and flexible enough to play several positions. He also has a huge drive to win. His hero is former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, a man who was physically on the small side, like Ben, but who could play beyond his size. Ben dreams of becoming quarterback, but the coach, Coach O'Brien, considers him too small. More importantly, O'Brien wants his own son, Shawn, to be quarterback, because he is trying to live through Shawn. O'Brien was once a pro and now he is pressuring Shawn to follow in his footsteps.

Ben is disappointed and feels it is unfair that he cannot be quarterback, but he is a strong person so he deals with it. Shawn, however, is being pressured too hard by his father to win and this is making him a poor quarterback and, ironically, threatening the season. Ben has an influence on Shawn and helps guide him to better quarterbacking, but then Coach O'Brien begins to interfere. 

One theme of this book is that parents should avoid putting too much pressure on their children. Ben's father, for example, supports him but doesn't make unrealistic demands, whereas Shawn's father has too much emotional energy invested in his son's success at football. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team