Coach Carter (2005)
I don’t play sports. I spend most of my free time day dreaming and thinking about food. When my boyfriend asks me if I want to watch a sports movie, I always say yes.
Sports movies teach me about life and remind me of values that are hard to extract from my less dramatic daily grind. However, the lessons about motivation, team work, and integrity still apply.
If you can look past the awkwardly forced subplot about Ashanti and her baby, there are many great lessons in this movie that can help anyone from Joe Shmoe to Bill Belichik “Sometimes just because you deserve it doesn’t mean they are going to hand it to you. You have to take it”.
There are a lot of things to learn about socioeconomic class divide and racism too, but those are discussions for another day.
Here are the three things that resonated with me the most.
1. It reminds us all that the sports centric culture in the USA is not necessarily positive for this nation’s youth. It is not just the role of educators and parents to let children know that they have potential to reach higher well beyond their high school years.
2. Coach Carter is an unapologetic hardass who stresses respect. The moment where he calls his players “sir” and told them that they will be treated with respect until they lose that respect is the very opposite of what many of us know as “respect is earned”. Perhaps this is the better way, and we should all start off by treating each other with respect. Especially for someone who was not born into privilege this mind set is even more important.
3. Finally, as a rather selfish and competitive person, I struggled with the scene where the students who did well in school were punished with those who didn’t. But then I realize that on a global scale, this is the reason we give back. It’s not so we can buy a place in heaven, go to nice parties, or gain the approval of our friends. We don’t all need to be at the same level of achievement, but we should all work towards reaching some basic level of living. Otherwise, what is the meaning of being a part of a team? A community?
This movie has some hilarious zingers. I am glad that the violence was not gratuitous. And after years of Samuel L. Jackson playing the badass, it’s great to see that he always had that scary don’t-mess-with-me glare that scares the shit out of snakes, Norse Gods, and underprivileged goons.