Just before stepping on the treadmill a few days ago, I opened my DVD holder to select a movie appropriate for a hard run. As I flipped through my selection of chick flicks and ‘80s movies, I came across an old favorite, one that my friends and I watched countless times during our senior year of high school: “Remember the Titans.”\nI love everything about “Remember the Titans.” I love the actors, the perfect ‘60s soundtrack, the dialogue, and of course the Cinderella ending. I love it when Julius and Gerry become best friends, I love it when Cheryl and Coach Boone – played by the ever-versatile Denzel Washington – talk football, and I especially love it when a crowd of football players start singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”\nCritics have often lambasted the film as too sentimental, so sugary as to make your teeth rot after one showing. But just as often as people have criticized the film, I have stood up for the movie, for its morals and for its message. What better way to call attention to human-rights issues than to watch a cinematic work of art detailing the struggle for integration? What better way to remind sports critics that athletics are sometimes the only way to foster change? Sports are one of the few things that can bring strangers and enemies together through a common bond. Once you start sharing your love of the game with someone, all racial, religious, and ethnic differences vanish. It’s player to player, athlete to athlete, competitor to competitor. \nOften today’s sports headlines read of various transgressions, instead of astounding achievements. Some of the top stories from the past year include Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring, Roger Clemens’ steroids, and Tim Donaghy’s betting on the NBA. These stories not only infiltrated the sports pages and blogs, but the minds of those who say sports aren’t worth watching anymore, that they’re just another way for kids to look up to spoiled, lazy, criminal athletes. \n“Remember the Titans” – based on a true story – doesn’t make the viewer forget the present, but it honors the past. It commemorates a moment when sports changed a group of people and a community for the better. Recently sports have become a scandal-ridden section of the newspaper, instead of a pastime used to convey life lessons to children. \nWatching coaches Yoast and Boone create a championship-winning and fully integrated team only gives me hope that baseball will survive the steroid scandals, the NFL will find new heroes to follow, and the NBA will prove past champions won deservingly. That’s the real message of “Remember the Titans” and most sports movies: hope. \nHope in a goal or belief – no matter how lofty or unrealistic – can be the only thing to power you through adversity. It’s the love of the game, the hope that things will turn out ok, that most players are good, that can power the average fan through the hard times.
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