On Sunday, July 7 (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET; ESPN Deportes, 7 p.m. ET) E:60 will debut “Southmost: Football and Life on the Border,” a collaboration that brings together ESPN’s newsmagazine program and Univision, specifically multiple Emmy Award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos.
Ramos and producer Jeremy Williams made numerous visits to Brownsville, Texas, the southmost city in the state and home to a unique high school football rivalry.
The rivalry between Lopez and Porter High Schools is different not because of what happens on the field but because of the reality facing the players off it. Brownsville sits just two miles from the U.S. border and Mexico’s Matamoros, a city plagued by drug cartels and violence.
Spending a full year with four high school football players allowed E:60 and Ramos to poignantly paint what they and their families experience on their personal journeys.
Williams said it was important to let the players and their families know that Ramos and the E:60 team was there to listen to their stories, not to exploit them in any way.
“I set up a single camera and said if they wanted to share their stories with me, to meet me after practice,” Williams said. “Figuring that I would only have a few players, I was floored when they lined up down the hall. They told stories that left me stunned.”
Brownsville isn’t like most towns in Texas. The proximity to the border and the culture being chronicled was something Williams and the crew constantly had to keep in mind.
“The biggest challenge was not only getting everyone to trust us with their stories, but to also tell it the right way, culturally,” Williams said. “We had to keep politics out and depict how football factors in for the young men. And do that while telling their stories correctly, and hopefully shedding some light on how difficult life on the border really is.”
Williams hopes this story will help people understand.
“I hope people really hear these kids’ stories on what life is like on the border. The answers aren’t black and white,” he said. “There’s a lot of grey there and these kids are resilient, hard-working and ultimately fighting for a better life.”
Scenes from “Southmost: Football and Life on the Border”
Photos by E:60 producer Jeremy Williams
“I found two schools along the border of Mexico in Brownsville, Texas who play an annual rivalry game,” producer Jeremy Williams said of the feature he worked on with reporter Jorge Ramos (pictured).
Brownsville sits just two miles from the U.S. border and Mexico’s Matamoros, where Ramos and crew visited a player’s family.