By Emily Chin
It took a combination of Kobe Bryant’s last game (#ThankYouKobe) and the instagram video of Cruz Beckham singing ‘Hope’ (from the soundtrack) that lead me to re-watching Coach Carter, a long forgotten favourite. Sports movies have always been my thing. Basketball, Boxing, Ice Hockey, American Football, Dance. As the audience we can almost always expect how the story will end, and sometimes not. Either way, there is much to learn from the drive and discipline of athletes, the resilience to bounce back from a slump, passion for the game, the bond between team mates, and of course how it makes you bawl when the music swells during a win or defeat – and I’d watch them over and over and over anytime. What struck me particularly this time I watched it was the relevance of Coach Carter’s character in a leadership role and in the decisions that he made:
The 1000 suicides and 2500 pushups paled in comparison to the contracts between Coach and the student-athletes. They stated high expectations (academic and personal) that the players saw as impossible. No one expected these students to graduate – not even the students themselves. The journey was long and hard, and it built character and competencies.
2.Taking A Stand
In a hugely unpopular act of locking down the gym which led to cancelled games, his property was attacked, he was spat on, the school and parents were against him. The easy way would have been to give in and make everyone happy, but he was steadfast in standing by his rationale and not bending to external pressures. It would have been a life and death situation for some of his players if he backed down on his principles.
3.Visionary and Longer Term View
Everyone else saw basketball as the students’ highlights in their lives, but this was not good enough for Coach Carter. He would not settle for status quo and challenged them to be better. This vision that he painted about their future and engagement with his team helped the students buy in into the possibility that they did not have to end up a statistic in prison / dead.