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Remember The Titans Analysis

Updated on February 14, 2013
Movie Poster
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The movie Remember The Titans, is a unique movie presented in the form of a narrative; an organized story with a plot. Telling stories is one of the most human activities and they are a large part of relating to the actual circumstances, as the opening states “Based on a True Story.” Additionally this movie follow Burke’s Pentad; a set of five questions that seeks to establish the essential facts of a story: Scene - where it happened, Agent - who was involved, Act - what were the events, Agency - how did things happen, and Purpose - why, what was the result. The beginning lines sets the scene: Alexandria, Virginia - 1981. Sheryl is heard narrating the act, the series of events that led to the present in the movie. She states how football is a way of life and the agents were the black and white football players mixed into one high school. The movie itself takes its own route as a storyteller explaining the agency and purpose of the football team and how they achieved their success.

When Coach Boone first introduces himself, Coach Herb Tyrell is quick to state ““Well the way I see it we got all the help we need around here. Why aren’t you outside hollerin’ like all your little friends?” For the white coaching staff he is just another ‘negro’ and no different than those involved in the riots. The words of Coach Herb Tyrell is a form of altercasting or the use of language to impose a certain description or identity on another person through labeling. Additionally in this context, ‘negro’ is a devil term; a term that is viewed negatively in White America at the time. Afterward when Coach Boone is sitting on a back porch with Dr. Dave, Coach Boone engages in self-disclosure and reveals to the reader why he left North Carolina. Self-disclosure is defined as the revelation of personal information that is not readily available. He states how he was turned down from a job he thought he rightfully earned and it was given to a white coach who had no clue, Coach Boone felt by coming to Virginia he was afraid of doing the same thing to Coach Yoast.

When Coach Boone meets again with Coach Yoast, there is a different vibe. Coach Boone wants a positive face or the need to be seen and accepted as a worthwhile and reasonable person and this is seen when he apologizes to Coach Yoast for how the previous meeting went. The body buffer zone in the scene is much smaller than in the initial meeting and this allows for engaged listening by both parties. Coach Boone is sitting upright in a chair with Coach Yoast standing closely and this good posture and eye contact is indicative of the positive healthy attitudes each has about themselves, about each other and the situation. The body buffer zone is the space that people claim as their own because the space surrounds their body. Engaged listening is when one makes a personal relational connection with the source of the message and actively works with that person to create shared meaning and understanding. What takes place is an employment interview in which Coach Yoast interviews the potential head-coach. In the discussion Coach Yoast mentions “I’m worried about my boys” to which Coach Boone replies “Well I ain’t gonna cook em and eat em”. This type of reply is an example of linguistic relativism, by giving us a picture and putting it in context of the situation, we find that it gives us a wider and deeper perception of Coach Boone’s attitude. Cooking and eating a food often implies a sole-control and self-satisfaction and by rebutting it, we gain a perception that Coach Boone does not want to lord himself over the team and other staff. He wants cooperation and is willing to compromise to reach that, remarkably this is all succinctly said through that simple statement.

When Coach Boone first meets his football team, initially only black players, we see the coach play the role of a task leader; one who keeps members on topic, stresses the activity of the group, and follows agenda. He is able to do this with the football team he had never met before because of the formal power allocated to him by the high school as Head Coach. According to French and Raven’s Five Types of Power, his type of power would be a legitimate one; conferred by the head coach position. After the white players join the the team, Gary and Ray talk to Coach Boone before the team heads to practice on the bus. Surrounding them are the parents of black players as well as the white parents and in the midst of this Coach Boone introduces the two new white players to the crowd and then uses humor to establish himself as their coach. Additionally by using language by that establishes immediacy or the seemingly small but powerful way to establish the relationship, he reinforces his role. An example of this is the coach telling Gary and Ray that off the bus their parents may be authority figures in their lives, but once they are on the team, their new “Daddy” is Coach Boone, e.g. “Ray, who’s you daddy?” with Ray replying “You...” In the next scene when the Coach has both blacks and whites including the staff, he tries to create cohesiveness or increased teamwork, by grouping team players by roles they play such as defensive line and center, additionally he repeats he does not care about the color of the skin, which is for the most part is the tension in the team.

When the tension erupts over to a team fight, afterward Coach Boone begins promotive communication by encouraging team they need to divert their aggression into football and they need to work hard and fighting is a diversion from the main goal of the team; winning. Promotive communication is helping a group achieve its goal by specifying them, and works toward moving the agenda along and keeping people on track. Coach Boone continues doing this in practice when he reiterates “Everything we gonna do is changing: we’re gonna change the way we run, we’re gonna change the way we eat, we’re gonna change the way we tackle..” Throughout practice, the Coach is seen engaging in verbally critical conversations with the player and the reason why it is effective is because the culture views conflict-as-opportunity to improve. This is based on the four assumptions of conflict-as-opportunity culture where conflict is normal, useful process, all issues are subject to change through discussion, direct confrontation and conciliation are valued by the players, and conflict is necessary renegotiation of a implied trust with the coach, that he isn’t driving them nuts to torture them but to improve them. An example of this is when Coach tells Pete he’s fumbling carelessly and tells him to go run a mile with the ball. There are many more techniques throughout this film but these are for the most part are the ones I liked.


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