I’m not a sports fan. In fact, athletic events bore me to tears. But last night my wife rented “Coach Carter” starring Samuel Jackson, and I have to admit it’s a pretty good flick. It’s based on the real-life story of an inner city basketball coach who insisted that grades and character come before athletics. Carter made national headlines when, after a streak of winning games, he locked his team out of the gym and refused to let them practice or play until they brought their grades up.
What really surprised me was the reaction of the parents and community to Carter’s decision. They didn’t seem to care if the kids were failing math, but they were furious when they weren’t allowed to play ball. Apparantly the mindset is, “The odds are stacked so high against my kid that he has no chance for a future, so it’s cruel to even get his hopes up. At least let him enjoy some basketball before he drops out and winds up in prison.” No wonder the inner city is so messed up. It’s a mindset of total hopelessness.
There were a lot of good messages in this movie. Tough love and discipline can push kids farther than they think they can go. Anyone can have self-respect, but they have to earn it. Our decisions shape who we become. But most of all, the film made me thankful for all the opportunities, encouragement, and positive role models I was blessed with as I struggled through my teen years. Otherwise, who knows where I’d be today?