THOUGHTS: X’s and O’s: A Football Love Story

XO2_lrI should preface this piece by saying that I don’t really watch football. Maybe the occasional Superbowl, but even then I’m mostly eating and socializing. But in watching X’s and O’s, it didn’t matter that I’m not a football fan. Ultimately that wasn’t really the point.

If you keep abreast of sports news, you will have read recent articles about the damage football is doing to players’ bodies and brains. In X’s and O’s, playwright KJ Sanchez and collaborator Jenny Mercein, explore what this means for the future of the game through interviews with players and their families. The interviews are interspersed with historical details, neurology, and fan discussions.

X’s and O’s is very much an ensemble play of talented actors, but it benefits from having a former football player (Dwight Hicks), and the daughter of a football player (Jenny Mercein) as part of the cast. They bring a singular honesty to their roles.

X’s and O’s provokes thought and reflection in the way that really good theater does. My friend and I stood at the BART station afterwards discussing football (her mom is a huge football fan, having gone to Cal), and what we’d just seen. In fact, some of the scenes triggered audible reactions from the audience. This is a play worth seeing and talking about.

Reasons to go:XO1_lr

  1. The talented ensemble cast of three black actors and three white actors
  2. The discussions you will probably have afterwards
  3. A pro football player who has successful to acting and theater in particular (I admit, I was skeptical at first)

Who should go: Teens and Adults


  1. You can bring drinks into the theater from the bar if they’re in a plastic cup, but drink slowly, there is no intermission
  2. Certain nights have docent talks and post-show discussions
  3. There is no bad seat

Themes: Football, Class, Race, Neuroscience

Show information: via Berkeley Rep

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