Movie Review – When the Game Stands Tall

This weekend STARZ is showing “When the Game Stands Tall.”  If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend setting your DVR, better yet, purchase the DVD.  Everyone who has ever played a sport and/or coached a team needs to see this movie!  It’s the true story about De La Salle High School’s record 12 year, 151 game winning streak and the how the team “stood tall” through the events of the year they lost their 152nd game.  The life lessons the team learned from their Coach Bob Ladouceur– (fabulously played by Jim Caviezel) – standing tall, facing their fears, and maintaining humility, transform these competitive high school boys into modest men.

Although his wife, played by Laura Dern, has to remind him that his home family and his relationship with his son need to come before his team.  Coach Ladoucer and his coaching staff teach their players to keep priorities in order – God, family, brotherly love, academics, and then football.  They learn to trust and be accountable to each other by sharing their goals.  The Spartans pray before every game and proudly enter the field holding hands. It’s not just a team – it’s a brotherhood.

All sports leagues can learn from Coach Ladoucer’s methods; they should pause for a moment before the game to allow prayer.  In this “dog eat dog” world we live in, it’s refreshing to see young sports players and their coaches keep things in perspective; it builds character – after all, “it’s just a high school . . . game.”  No one should let a game or its score define who they are.  Maintaining one’s health and safety and being able to look at oneself in the mirror are far more important than being a game winner or a record breaker.  The effects caused by those concerned with the score and not the individual – have made many would-be pro athletes lose their ability to play due to breaks and sprains they got playing in their younger years because they were the “star player” and their coach would not take them out of the game.  I’ve seen this first hand during a middle school basketball game.  A player was seriously injured; the coach would not remove the player from the game to allow some of the well-rested and ready to play, “B” players a chance to show their skills.  This poor decision on the part of the coach not only caused serious physical injury to the one player, but detrimental self-esteem issues to the others.  In the history of football, many young players have lost their lives collapsing on the field from heat stroke.  Coach Ladoucer would rather lose a game than lose a player.  This is what makes him a loved and respected coach.

I saw this movie twice in the theater and absolutely enjoyed it.  Jim Caviezel was not bad to look at either!  If you’ve seen it, post your comments please.  – BMT