Review: Shoot For The Star

Shoot for the Star is the autobiography of the inspirational speaker and Dallas Cowboys football player Bill Bates. This is not a new book. It was written just after winning his team’s second trip to the Super Bowl. Bates went on to play four more years and win one more Super Bowl ring.

Unlike some of the other sports biographies I have read recently (Armstrong, Runyan) this one did not have a universal theme of overcoming incredible odds to be in the position he was in. Therefore, you really have to be a football fan, or particularly a Cowboys fan, to really enjoy this book. Fortunately for me, I am a Cowboys fan and my years of greatest interest in football were from 1984 to 1998. Bates played from 1983 to 1997. Not knowing it at the time, I basically watched Bill Bates his whole career.

The great odds that Bates did have to struggle with are the types of things that makes him a good motivational speaker today. His biggest struggle was that he was an average guy trying to make it in a game that favored the exceptional. At 6’1″ he was not overly large. I don’t know what weight he finished his career at, but at one point in the book he talked about only weighing 183 pounds. That is not very large when facing guys like Herschel Walker’s 6’1″ / 225 pounds. Bates never had a multi season contract (at least through the writing of the book) that guaranteed him a spot on the team. Each year in training camp he had to fight 150+ other men for one of the coveted 47-53 slots on the team roster.

Bill Bates is an example of your average person who wants to go out and leave a mark on the world. He shows that through hard work and tenacity a person can often beat out more talented and naturally gifted people to achieve what they desire.

This book was definitely written with the football fan in mind. It was nice to be able to read a book that did not feel like it had to explain every position on the field and what all the terms mean. That said, this is not a book that would be very interesting to someone who only has a casual knowledge of the sport.

There were just enough stats and records mentioned in the book to keep a fan intrigued without overwhelming someone with too much information.

Some of the stories he tells are incredibly hilarious. Many of the anecdotes I had to share with my wife. We laugh at some of the great antics that went on in the delivery rooms for our children. It is fun to read stories of other people’s experiences that are just as hilarious. Just imagine this: 25 people in a stressful delivery room to deliver a set of very pre-mature triplets and in the middle of them all is an excited first time, football-playing dad calling a huddle with the doctors and nurses so he can give a pep rally speech moments before delivery!

The stories from the field were especially interesting to me because many of the plays that he recounts in the book were plays I remember seeing while glued to the TV on a Sunday afternoon.

Great book for the football fan that is looking for some motivation. Probably not a book that would interest my mom. However, unlike many biographies today, this one was completely devoid of cursing and I don’t feel I missed any of the emotion shared between the players. My hat’s off to an author who manages to keep it clean.

Shoot for the Star, Bill Bates, Word Publishing, 1994, 238 pages.