Teamwork and Race in Remember The Titans
The film, Remember the Titans, set in 1971, took place in a time where racial integration was just beginning, and the tension between whites and blacks was high. The film opens to a scene in which blacks and whites are rioting in the streets with only a few police officers to maintain order. This chaos is all pictured before unity, through football, is introduced to the town. Through the introduction of football, and teamwork, to the newly integrated school, many whites, and blacks, are able to unite in order to achieve a common goal and counteract racism. By analyzing the actions of the community that take place in the beginning of the season, the middle of the season, and the end of the season, it is obvious that there is a relationship between the decrease in racial tension and an increase in teamwork, unity, and pride.
At the very beginning of the season, before training camp, both the white and black players were unhappy with the integration. White players feared that they would lose their starting spots, while black players feared they would get no playing time solely based on their skin color. The student’s concerns change when they learn that Coach Boone, an African-American, will be taking over the head coaching position. After the no-nonsense coach, Herman Boone, was instated as head coach, it was apparent that race would not have an impact on his team winning games. Even before the first game, Coach Boone tells Assistant Coach Yoast, “We are both in a situation that we don’t want to be in, but I guarantee you this, I came to win.” This goal to win was commonplace among all of the coaches, and eventually would become the common goal of the players. Coach Boone knew that race was an issue the players must overcome in order to succeed as a team. In order to surmount the racist agendas that the students held, Coach Boone forced players of opposite races to sit down and learn about each other, threatening them with more grueling practices. Before the bus ride to training camp, Coach Boone stated, “I don’t care if you’re black, green, blue, white or orange, I want all of my defensive players on this side, and all players going out for offense over here, right now.” Soon, the tables that once seated only blacks or whites, turned into tables that sat the defensive team and offensive team, symbolic of the transition from many players to a single unit. This training camp is no easy journey for the players, which may explain why it was so easy for them to come together. Black or white, while practicing, every player shared the same struggle; this brought them closer together. Along with these struggles, another experience that brought the players closer together, took place when the team ran to the Gettysburg battlefield. Coach Boone said that, like soldiers at Gettysburg, the team members were still fighting amongst themselves today. The coach urged the players to take a lesson from the dead and to come together, or else they would be destroyed, just like those soldiers. The next day, there was one specific turning point during practice, which showed coaches that the players were beginning to overcome racism. Gary spoke up for his black teammate, Rev, and told one of the white blockers to do his job. Gary gained respect from many of the black players, especially Julius, who later becomes his best friend. After this play, Gary and Julius smashed each other’s helmets and accepted each other as teammates, and equals. This training camp turned out to be an enlightening experience for both black and white players, most of them with a new found acceptance of the opposite race. “Sport has the potential to strengthen social cohesion and help eradicate racism”(Cormaic 3). The player’s cohesive unity, found early in the season, was the only thing that allowed many of the players to break free from the shackles of racism.