Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Trip to the Movies is in Order

Note from the Author: I'll be the first to admit that there is a fundamental tension between the sentiments of this post, and the last one. That doesn't make (I don't think), any less valid. I just didn't want anyone to think the irony was lost on me.

This post is about sports. It's less about Vanderbilt then those of you who read this site are use to. Still, I think it's relevant, so indulge me if you will.

Back in August, Coach Bobby Johnson's decision to take the entire team to the movies garnered some positive publicity from the media and good will from the his team. I think it's time for Coach Kevin Stallings to take a trip to the cineplex with his team. The sooner the better.

I recently saw the movie Invictus, staring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, and directed by Clint Eastwood. For those of you who don't know, it's the story of the early days of Nelson Mandela's presidency and his desire, after being held as a political prisoner for 30 years, to bring his country together. For Mandela, he thought the best (if symboloic) way to do so was through sports, specifically Rugby. The movie chronicles the evolution and ultimate success of the Springboks, South Africa's national team, and winner's of the 1995 World Cup.

For me, the movie serves as a great (and sometimes much needed) reminder of all things great about sports; what sports is all about; and why they are important. Sports is about winning and losing. It's about competition. But for those who support specific teams, as well as those who play for those teams, it's about pride. For me, this is most pronounced in two particular teams: national teams and the teams of the schools you attended. Which is how this whole thing comes around to the Commodores.

For Vanderbilt fans (at least for this one), there is an overwhelming sense of pride when the Commodores win a big game. I vividly remember celebrating with friends and strangers when the basketball team beat N.C. State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2003. Seamus and I met the bus outside Memorial when the team returned from Orlando. I remember getting quizzical looks from the non-Vanderbilt fans (95% of which weren't) at Buffalo Billiards in Washington, D.C. watching the Commodores beat Tennessee in 2005. I remember the Music City Bowl, near frost-bite and all, and how amazing it felt when the team held up that trophy. I have Joe Fisher's call when Shan Foster hit his 9th three pointer in overtime to beat Mississippi State on my iPod, and it's good for a smile whenever it comes on the shuffle. This list, obviously, is not exhaustive. But imbedded within all these moments is pride in the team and pride in the school.

Athletics, rightly or wrongly, provides Vanderbilt University with more exposure than anything. After all, it's no coincidence that undergraduate applications go up in a statistically significant way when Vanderbilt appears in a bowl game, or wins a few games in the NCAA Tournament.

Fan blogs like this one are where passionate fans congregate. We are, admittedly, reactionary. The highs are higher than they probably should be, and the lows are certainly lower. This passion comes from a lot of places, but I am sure pride is near the top of that list.

Invictus serves as a reminder about what makes sports great. And, while I doubt anyone who's read this far needs to be sold on the virtue of sports, we could all use reminders that put things into prospective. That is not to say the frustrations expressed here are unwarranted (they're not), but I think in this week between games, we could all use a trip to the movies. If it wouldn't violate NCAA rules, I'd buy the tickets and drive the team myself. The rest of you are on your own.


AD said...

Nice change of pace, Bobby. I think the coaches need to think outside the box, and ideas like this make sense. The Australia trip has been discussed here, and the feeling is that that didn't "take."

One would think that direct, fire-lighting action would be needed, but as we've seen, CKS seems at his wit's end. Maybe the break in the action plus some external motivation like you suggest is the answer.

And if you can figure out how to embed that Fisher call on the site, I think your readers would enjoy a listen.

Anonymous said...

anything but american idol...instead of playing ball right, they might start trying to croon like Michael Bolton or Abba.

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