Moving story about a new high school basketball coach, played brilliantly by Morgan Freeman. The new coach comes in with some tough love for a group of students the school has written off. But through his belief in them, his training and support, the majority of the lads turn their lives around and achieve both on and off the pitch.
This is more than a cliched movie, it's well worth catching and explores life in and outside of the school for young black males in the States. The balling action is no And1 Street DVD but it is fairly realistic.
One or two issues are addressed that we don't normally hear about (pregnancy, abortion) and we see challenges from a black man about the behaviour of other black males, which is interesting too. Great movie and the acting is outstanding all round. This is based on a true story.
But what can we learn..
1. Tough love - this is the kind of thing that God does with us. He loves us and gives us the freedom to make mistakes. But God's love is a tough love, he is shaping us and refining us. In fact we learn from the Bible that God disciplines the ones he loves. Same with Coach Carter as he disciplines and shapes his team.
2. Life is more than a game - the students live in a tough neighbourhood. They love basketball. But they find out that life is about more than the game. This is a lesson for us. Sometimes we can be so committed to something that we miss God. Other times we're so committed religiously that we miss people around us, miss out on life, miss opportunities to love and share the Gospel.
3. You can make a difference - OK, so its a cliche. But you can make a difference, whether you're a ball coach, a youth worker or a student with your classmates. There are so many ways in which the Coach makes a difference in the lives of the students - support, care, education and life skills. Everything you do for God is worth it, nothing is wasted.
4. Perseverance - pushing on and pushing through is one of life's greatest lessons. But it's often a lesson in our Christian life and Christian ministry. The coach in Coach Carter makes a bold decision to close the basketball team down until the lads start achieving. There is such great opposition that the ball court is forced to re-open and the Coach is preparing to resign. But as he walks onto the court to get his papers, he finds the lads sat there with desks, learning not playing ball. Ultimately, his way proves right. Sometimes you have to take a stand for what you believe in.
5. Believing in something, in people - The very last Chapter of the DVD sees the basketball a little distraught after they have lost the championship game. But Coach Carter stands there and believes in them. As the sequence runs to the end of the movie and the end titles, we find out how the real people the movie is based on, got on. Many of them succeeded. This shows how Christ believes in us, how we can make a difference in the lives of others. A powerful clip, if a little cheesy American too!
Our Greatest Fear
Clip is chapter 19 on DVD. 1:41:13 start time. This can run to the end of the poem below, as Coach Carter leaves the gym (1:43:14), or carry on to the end of the clip (Richmond winning the game), 1:46:03. Clip duration - 4mins 50secs.
In this clip, Coach returns to the gym to find the players studying (they have to study in order to be allowed to play ball again). Rick stands up and quotes the Marianne Williamson poem below.
Clip could be used to illustrate the power of God in us / hope / purpose etc.
(a poem from Marianne Williamson in "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.
Love, life and abortion
In this clip, we find Kenyon going to visit his girlfriend (Kyra) who he has got pregnant, but then fallen out with. He is on his way back to make amends and let her know the good news about getting a scholarship into Sacramento University and wanting to take her with him. In the conversation, he finds that Kyra has aborted the baby. He is upset and upset that he wasn't there for her. But re-affirms his love for her practically by still saying he wants her to go with him to the University.
Discussion could be around - love, pregnancy, abortion, God's love for us and how his love is unconditional - and yet we do have to make a response to him, just as Kyra accepts Kenyon's invitation to go to Sacramento.
The clip starts as he walks to her house, and ends as he says to Kiera "I love you" and she replies, "I love you too". Chapter 20. Start time is 1:46:03 and end time is 1:50:13. Clip duration - 4mins 10secs.