Get off the bench
Xs and Arrows
November 6, 2021
In my opinion, some of the greatest films happen to be those centered around sports. Shocked to hear that? They provide us with both true and embellished stories of underdogs, heroes, role models and warm and fuzzy feelings that remind us that there is still plenty of good in this world.
They also tend to provide us with comic relief, some of the most quoted movies of all time fall into the sports category, things like "You're killing me, Smalls! (Sandlot 1994), or "The world needs ditch diggers, too, Danny" (Caddyshack 1980), or "Juuuusst a bit outside" (Major League, 1989) and, one of the best and underappreciated sports movie quotes, "I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style. Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever" (The Replacements, 2000).
There are also those moments on the big screen that are motivational in nature and sometimes become part of our societal vernacular decades later. Who remembers "Win just one for the Gipper," (All American 1940), or "Go pick a winner Bobby" (The Natural, 1984) and, of course, "Great moments, are born out of great opportunity" (Miracle, 2004).
One of my personal favorite sports films is "The Bad News Bears," not the remake from the 2000s, but the original 1976 edition starring the late, great Walter Matthau as the beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, former ball player turned pool cleaner and Southern California youth baseball coach Morris Buttermaker. Buttermaker inherits an "extra" team in the league after a parent successfully sues to prevent the league from leaving kids out of the game. Of course, he has his famous players, those that turned into pop culture icons because of the film, the Harley-riding superstar Kelly Leak and the brash, foul-mouthed shortstop Tanner Boyle, just to name a few.
Among the others on the team, the underdogs, is little Timmy Lupus. He is the awkward shy kid, picked on by others and someone who is lacking any athletic ability. Lupus' big moment comes after the improbable turnaround of the Bears and their appearance in the unlikely championship game. Buttermaker has a moment of compassion and pulls most of his starting team to let many of the other kids, including Lupus, play in the last inning of this critical game. Among the detractors of the decision is Lupus himself, unwilling to get off the bench at such a crucial time for his team.
The exchange is short, but it is one of my favorite movie lines ever uttered and old Buttermaker delivered it as only an aged savant of the game could, "Listen, Lupus, you didn't come into this life to sit on a dugout bench did ya? Then get your ass out there and do the best you can."
He does, and ultimately has his moment in the game by securing a key catch in the outfield. The Bears go on to lose but the lessons provided by that film and that moment are motivational at the very least. How many of us spend too much time on the dugout bench because we are comfortable there? Too often there are those that prefer watching to being on the playing field or in the arena making a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. We must push beyond what is comfortable to reach even a small piece of our potential. This is the basis for athletics in general and it applies to everyday life as we battle self-doubt to be victorious.
Sometimes we see these examples in life, and sometimes we see them on the big screen; sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes it is the other way around. We have been created to achieve more, and sometimes we need a little boost, even if it comes from a fictional manager on a movie set from the 1970s: "Get your ass out there and do the best you can."
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.