“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right”

- Mark Twain

The Cost of Winning


The Cost of Winning – From HBO Sports and Emmy(R)-winning executive producer Michael Strahan comes this inspiring four-part series that follows the team’s against-all-odds story.

Engaging and honest, The Cost of Winning intimately captures the Panthers’ everyday lives as they turn the streets and public parks into their training grounds in hopes of one day playing on the college – and ultimately, professional – level.

The Cost of Winning – Located in the heart of Baltimore, the underserved 200-year-old Catholic school became a symbol of hope (and controversy) after the Panthers were expelled from their private-school league for being “too good” and opted to play a grueling national schedule.

The story of the St. Frances Academy Panthers football program in Baltimore who were expelled from their private school league for being “too good,” a reasoning that “raised questions of racial bias.”

Biff Poggi, the Panthers’ polarizing head coach, and the team of inspiring young men travel thousands of miles to compete against some of the country’s top high schools in an effort to chart the players’ paths to college.

The Cost of Winning – This four-part documentary series follows the 2019 campaign of the St. Frances Academy Panthers football team.


High Stakes Inner City HS Football Documentary Series From HBO

The Cost of Winning is a TV documentary mini-series about the life and times of the football team at St. Frances Academy, a Baltimore inner-city, almost all black, Catholic high school.

As Episode 1 opens, we are reminded that as a result of other high schools (who coincidentally are almost all white kids) refusing to play St. Frances any longer, St. Frances is now forced to play a national schedule.

We are also reminded of the devastation and violence that has wrecked Baltimore’s inner city for years and years. Then we are introduced to the kids themselves.

The Cost of Winning takes a closer look at the role of football as a possible way out of the inner city for a bunch of kids.

The football program has no resources of its own and instead relies on the generosity of (co-head coach) Biff Poggie, who struck gold as a former hedge fund manager (Poggie says he spends roughly $300,000 a year on the program, paying literally for everything from coaches to housing to travel, you name it).

But even more amazing are the background stories of the kids themselves, who battle incredible odds to make something of themselves.

At one point, the kids are at practice on a nearby street (they don’t have a stadium or regular practice field) listening to Poggie, when you then clearly hear 3 gunshots being fired nearby.

Just another day in the neighborhood.

If you have an interest in high school football, or more importantly, how inner city African-American young men are trying to find a way of of a “cycle” (as Poggie phrases it), I’d readily suggest you check this out in a binge session.

Episodes of The Cost of Winning

The-Cost-of Winning-Episodes

The Cost of Winning, Episode 1

Only one week out from their season opener in Miami, Baltimore’s St. Frances Academy Panthers prepare for their grueling upcoming national schedule.

Lacking adequate facilities and forced out of their local private-school league after every opposing team forfeited to them, the team hits the streets to practice while reflecting on what football could mean for their futures.

The Cost of Winning, Episode 2

With week two’s home opener against Simeon fast approaching, the #2 seeded Panthers use the game as an opportunity to prepare for their highly anticipated upcoming showdown against top-ranked Mater Dei.

As top players manage high expectations, Baltimore City Council president Brandon Scott gives the Panthers a pep talk before they take the field.

The Cost of Winning, Episode 3

As the Panthers work to rebuild their bruised team morale, homecoming provides the players with some much-needed support before they take on IMG Academy’s Ascenders – a fellow perennial powerhouse that shares a singular loss to Mater Dei – for the one of biggest football games Baltimore has ever seen.

The Cost of Winning, Episode 4

As the final game of regular season looms, the Panthers’ seniors are struck by the realization that their time at St. Frances is rapidly coming to a close and major life changes lie ahead.

Before National Signing Day, Panthers’ coaches aid in solidifying college plans and help place those still uncommitted, while surprises – some good, some less than – arise for the players.

The Cost of Winning – Located in one of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, a city plagued by corruption and violence, the Panthers program has become a symbol of hope and controversy in inner-city Baltimore.

The Cost of Winning – The directors ably mix in fly-on-the-wall footage with talking-head interviews, clearly aiming to not get in the way of this complex story and its many narrative strands, which follow a variety of coaches, players and educators.

The Cost of Winning – It’s difficult not to admire the lofty goals Poggi and others set for the students; it’s hard not to sympathize with players who are the object of racial epithets from other teams.

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