This is a movie review I wrote a few days ago for academic evaluation. We study The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey in depth, and had to relate Coach Carter-the movie based on the conterversial Californian Coach Ken Carter- to the same.
To know more about the book:
a summary of the book
or the movie:
The movie Coach Carter is based on a real life incident in Richmond, California, when a high school coach Ken Carter put a stopper on all basketball activities because 15 out of his 45 member undefeated basketball team were performing poorly in academics.
Coach Carter agreed to taken upon the responsibility of a team which had won just 4 matches in the last season as opposed to 22 losses. His initial confrontations with the team depicted a large amount of pent-up resentment and aggression in the team members, coupled with a tendency to play the blame game. The Richmond team was being extremely reactive to the scenario, with the individuality of the players more expressed than the team spirit.
The first meeting also saw the exit of the two top scorers of the previous season due to their disagreements with Coach Carter’s methods, and when this fact was expressed with much alarm by one of the players, Coach Carter answered it with a calm but firm belief that they would together build up other teammates to be the top scorers next season! This portrays the belief that nothing constitutes as the end of the world. There is always room for hope and improvement through introspection.
Coach Carter set the sights early on by getting the team and their guardians to sign contracts which, among other particulars, required a GPA of 2.3 (the national requirement being just 2.0) and regular attendance in lectures to continue on the basketball team. Outrageous as it sounded to the team and their families, Coach Carter began his mission with the ends clearly in sight. He consistently encouraged the team to believe in themselves, and emphasized that their sense of self-worth should come from their principle-centered core, and not from the rebukes of the society or taunts of their peers.
The principle of making your own decisions and living the consequences shifts the dependence paradigm to one of independence. Accountability and commitment are two important aspects of the same.
Coach Carter introduces creative synergy in the team by teaching them to derive learning from all sorts of situations like he does, for instance, by equating basketball tactics to the women in his life. He also stresses on the fact that nothing is impossible, only thinking makes it so. When the people around us belittle us or our activities and believe that our achieving a certain goal is impossible, it is our choice to either succumb to their reactive mentality, or be proactive and move for the win.
The Habit of Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood is exhibited when a player’s mother meets the Coach and informs him about the loss of her elder son some years ago. She expresses her ardent desire to see her only remaining son successful, and Coach Carter empathizes with her situation, thus proving that differences in background or ideology are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead, they become the stepping stones to synergy.
The Habit of Synergy comes into play when other team members volunteer to do part of the exercises assigned to a player to allow him back into the team, thus proving that in both in times of celebration and adversity; interdependence is the best paradigm we can use.
Winning is the ultimate goal of a basketball game, but achieving is that of life. We need to fight till the last second to achieve our goals, but if we do not ‘win,’ in conventional terms, we need to realize that long term goals are what matter, not instant gratification.
Tactics and strategies are vital aspects to any game, be it basketball or that of life. A level-headed attitude is necessary irrespective of winning or losing. In all situations, a mentality of win-win or no deal should be adopted to achieve optimum results.
And if you firmly believe that you are right in your stand, you need to go ahead and do it! Risks need to be taken with alacrity, self-confidence, proactive attitude, and a drive to achieve. As Coach Carter stresses, to be able to realize your potential, you need to be able to recognize it in the first place and value yourself for who you are.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had to written to his daughter on her 13th birthday about one of the most important principles in life…
Never do anything in secret or anything that you would wish to hide. For the desire to hide anything means that you are afraid, and fear is a bad thing and unworthy of you. We work in the sun and in the light. Even so in our private lives let us make friends with the sun and work in the light and do nothing secretly. And if you do so, my dear you will grow up a child of the light, unafraid and serene and unruffled, whatever may happen.
This rings true both in the context of the movie as well as our personal lives.
Setting priorities is important at every leg of life, and Coach Carter stresses that his team strike a balance between excellence in sports and academic performance, so much so that he puts a bar on all basketball activtities till some of the team members pucker up their academic performance. His move is met with extreme resentment by the people of Richmond, to the extent that Coach Carter decides to tender his resignation in the advent of the gym being thrown open. When he does walk into the gym to collect his belongings, he is touched to see his team working diligently on their academics, and expressing their commitment and single-minded devotion to his plan to get them to a better life.
Although the Richmond Oilers lost the deciding game of the season, they found an improved, more positive way of looking at life. They understood that mastery over self and synergy directed towards pre-aligned goals are more important than the cursory win.
I would like to conclude with my favorite quote from the movie, which is, incidentally, a poem penned by Marianne Williamson, a spiritual activist and author, in her book ‘A Return to Love’.
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.