And I never grow tired of startling friends by telling them so. Many of them know that I actually live for sports - either following or participating in baseball, basketball, hockey, football, skiing, boxing, distance running, etc. Yet, films, depicting sports, turn my stomach.
For example, Bull Durham was ranked the No. 1 sports movie of all time by ESPN- I found it silly and Kevin Costner totally unconvincing. Some have rated Raging Bull as the greatest movie of all time in any genre. To me, it seemed overly demeaning to women and DeNiro‘s performance was nothing but a bunch of mumbling gangster talk.
In Field of Dreams, Costner again bores us with his monotonous Kevin Costner imitation. Caddyshack wasn‘t funny for even a second. If you are one of those knuckleheads who enjoy laughing at the predictably stupid Bill Murray jokes, I suppose that doesn‘t make you a bad person.
The interminable Rocky movies epitomize everything that is bad about sports movies. Suffocating through a Stallone boxing melodrama should warrant a purple heart. Yo Adrian, not one round of the fight scenes was believable. Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed collapsing atop one another in a heap at the final bell - Lord help us.
For all of these reasons, when recently conned into seeing the box-office smash Coach Carter, I entered the theater with a major league attitude against the film. An underdog basketball team, coached by a disciplinarian ex-player back in the ‘hood - it has only been done about a dozen times by Hollywood.
Despite the predictability of this movie, I liked it. Since it was based on actual events during the coaching tenure of basketball coach Ken Carter at an inner city high school in California, the film was complete with issues of gang violence, drugs, and academic underachievement. As with much in life, the ending was also bittersweet.
The movie was not really about basketball. It left me moved by what one person can do to inspire others to perform beyond expectations. My girlfriend says I was tearing-up during a climatic scene that I won‘t give away if you haven‘t seen the film. I still say I was sweating from the previous fast-paced basketball sequences.
Whatever the case, most of us have bumped into people like Coach Carter during our lifetimes. What can be more compelling than someone who takes a lonely stand against conventional wisdom to stand up for principle and the capacity of each person to perform academically beyond limited expectations? The force of Carter‘s convictions helped some of his players attend college who might not have even completed high school.
If life were fair, teachers would be the ones earning million dollar contracts and endorsement deals, not jocks. The distractions and pressures on today‘s youth have put a premium on the already infinitesimal value of inspiring educators. Sports are drowning in good coaches and players. Excellent educators, like Ken Carter, are preciously few and today‘s real superstars.
Coach Ken Carter will join the lecture series at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey at 7:30 pm on March 2, 2005. Doors open at 6:45, admission is free, and the presentation will be held in the NCMC Student & Community Resource Center.