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Remember the Titans

When watching Remember the Titans; a Walt Disney Pictures film about the 1971 integration of a Virginia High School football team; many questions of leadership and morality arise. In a time when racial tension was high, an African American coach, played by Academy award winner Denzel Washington, must not only, unify his team but also lead the community into acceptance of its desegregation. As the new head coach, Coach Boone (Washington) uses his authority to establish himself as the leader.

With a combination of direction and coercion, Coach Boone sets his team on the track to success; starting his tenure by stating, “Make no mistake, I am the head coach. This is not a democracy! This is a dictatorship! I am the law. ” One of the many ways Coach Boone establishes his authority is to set standards for his team that he too upholds. He refuses to patronize his staff or team and is not easily shaken or embarrassed. His confidence, though powerful, is not arrogant and he directs his team by identifying with the individuals and teaching them to channel their emotions to create a successful team.

When needed, a bit of coercion is displayed; as when Coach Boone overworks all the players at camp until they embrace every teammate as an individual in order to become a solid team. He also makes the players “run a mile” when they make mistakes. At one point Coach Boone proclaims to his team “hatred destroys”. As a leader he presents to his team the significance of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg. While standing at the site of the battle he amplifies the destruction brought on by ignorance and intolerance and declares, “If we don’t come together … we too will be destroyed”.

This lesson from the dead points out that the historical actions of a society are repetitive and will continue to cycle unless we learn, change and lead our people to a better future. Though it may be easier to join the crowd in hatred, it is psychologically healthier and more rewarding to express a connection and lead people to acceptance. An example of this lesson exists within my own life. When a long-time friend was being harshly and unfairly criticized, I stood up to a group and defended her honor; when her husband would not; even though it would have been much easier to fold my hands and turn a deaf ear.

Though my actions terminated some alliances, the remaining circle of friends is happier and less critical. The growth has occurred. A question that comes up in this film is one pertaining to successful leadership. When Assistance Coach Yoast (Patton), who was demoted due to Coach Boone’s appointment, has the opportunity to be inducted into the hall of fame and get his position back by simply keeping his mouth shut and letting the team get cheated out of the regional championships, he refuses.

As a proven leader, he understands that he must put aside his personal goals and become one of the team. A good leader maintains authority while seeing through the eyes of the individuals he leads. He must stand up for the team. Remember the Titans is an inspiring film, based on a true story, which reminds us that in our professional and personal lives we must stand together and never let anything tear the team apart.

Works Citied Bruckheimer, Jerry. “Remember the Titans. ” Walt Disney Pictures, 2000.

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