‘Remember the Titans,’ Depictions of Society and Football

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Coach Boone (portrayed by Denzel Washington) looking on from the sidelines along with his team behind him during a regular season game.

Nicolas Creus Moreno, Sports Editor

Sports movies have left their mark all through the history of cinema, ranging from classic Oscar-winning films like Million Dollar Baby to more recent blockbusters such as the Creed Franchise. However, sports movies that have a lead star and that portray the sport in its purest form in addition to portraying a variety of life lessons for the audience to reflect upon, are hard to come by. Remember the Titans considers all of these factors, making it the best sports movie of all time.

Even if you’re not familiar with the basics of football, Remember the Titans portrays the sport in its purest form and is a great learning tool to understand the game. Football goes way beyond just getting a ball to an end zone; there are hundreds of factors that most people don’t take into account. Running plays, making routes, different types of passes, and different types of scoring methods are properly highlighted and explained in the movie in a way that even the most unaware individuals can understand. Aside from the technical properties of the game, Remember the Titans also displays all the dedication that young players are required to have in practice and during games, especially during a tough time like high school. The movie proves that football is not just a sport for anyone, as it can be mentally and physically challenging for both players and coaches. The sport is nothing like depictions provided by movies such as The Waterboy, in which players master the game through an “overnight effort”. This is the case for the fictional character Bobby Boucher, who managed to pass from a team waterboy to its star player in the NCAA over a span of four days. Movies like these provide false images and depictions of the difficulty behind mastering this truly unique and challenging sport.

Remember the Titans is also quite memorable because of all the different lessons it holds within its premise. The fact that the film takes place during times of segregation in the United States allows viewers to truly understand the social differences in society back then. It can help the viewers reflect on how sports can change people’s perceptions of each other. They can learn to coexist and even build bonds that last a lifetime which span beyond race, ethnicity or any other type of background. The movie also teaches the audience to be better, to be compassionate, and to be truthful to what they love. Given that it’s a real-life story, it’s presented with much more accountability in regards to how a team separated by societal racial constructs managed to unite, and how nowadays, more than ever, we must follow their footsteps. Most sports movies teach their viewers the basic lessons, such as commitment and hard work equals excellence. Such examples can be seen in Rocky, a movie about a low-income errand boy who trains hard and becomes the world’s heavyweight boxing champ. However, the lessons in Remember the Titans hold a special meaning, as they go way beyond sports and translate into life and topics such as racism, indifference, mental health, and social acceptance.

Finally, any great movie must have a groundbreaking lead actor that can capture the audience’s attention. Frankly, there was no better man for the job than the two-time Oscar, one-time Tony and three-time Golden Globe-winning actor, Denzel Washington. He was able to immerse himself in the head role and portray the true essence of a struggling black coach in a white community while aiming to keep his job despite racial segregation. The movie created several memorable moments, such as when Coach Boone (Washington’s character) had heartwarming heart-to-heart conversations with some of his players as they struggled throughout the season. Such examples can be seen when he promises overweight and academically struggling linebacker Louie Lastik that, after the season ends, they’ll work together so Lastik could get his grades up and go to college. This is something that he never imagined would be possible and that eventually brought the big man to tears. There are those who compare Washington’s portrayal of Coach Boone with Samuel L Jackson’s interpretation of Coach Carter in the Coach Carter movie, which has a similar premise. Critics believed Jackson was more devoted to his role and because of this, he was given more screen time. Yet Washington was able to deliver a stellar performance while filming and sharing screen time with up to 30 other actors. This placed an even greater degree of difficulty, as he had to persevere to be the center of attention and the people’s main focus. Additionally and financially speaking, Coach Carter managed to earn an undermining $76 million worldwide at the box office, while Remember the Titans managed to gross a whopping $130 million proving their difference in success and the difference between having Washington as the movie’s lead, instead of some other Hollywood actor.

Next time you find yourself scrolling through Netflix and come across Remember the Titans you should give it a chance and take a look. Aside from taking away your boredom on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it will teach you about football, demonstrate great acting from the lead actor and his cast, and will showcase important life lessons that can be applied to football and life.