February 10, 2007

What’s Wrong With Kid’s Sports Movies?

by Dan Bilicki In: Uncategorized

After catching the Mighty Ducks 2 late one past night while channel-surfing, something came to my head that I had overlooked in the past. Have you ever noticed that the quality of sportsmanship as well as refereeing in sports movies, particularly sports movies geared toward children, are both horrendous? At some moments it looked fairly obvious that the referees had money against the Ducks, rather Team U.S.A.

At one point in their game against their heated rivals Iceland, one of the most blatant bad calls in sports movies history occurred. After scoring a goal, while celebrating, Adam Banks, a star of Team U.S.A., was attacked by an Iceland player. The Iceland goon swung a two-handed slash at Banks’ wrist with clear intent to injure. He only received a two-minute minor penalty. Later in the game, the U.S. back-up goalie, Julie Gaffney, came into warm up and get into the game. Two Iceland players came over and, according to laws now-a-days, sexually harassed her. She retaliated by pushing them over and was assessed a game misconduct for intent to injure. How the vicious slash after the whistle wasn’t intent to injure and Gaffney’s push got her the boot is a mystery to me.

The source of the Iceland players’ goonery most likely comes from their coach, Wolf Stansson, a former goon in the NHL. It strikes me kind of weird that a national youth hockey program would hire a former league leader in penalty minutes as its coach. Stansson made it a point to tell his players to intentionally injure opponents during play and assembled a team of the biggest players he could find; most of which looked too old to be playing in youth tournament. During a shoot-around in practice against Gordon Bombay, the U.S. coach and former NHL player, Stansson slashed Bombay in the knee with clear intent to injure. If a man like this were to be hired to that role in reality, a public outcry would, no doubt, have him removed.

The Mighty Ducks franchise is not the only children’s sports movie(s) to feature bad sportsmanship and improper ideals. Angels in the Outfield condones cheating, albeit by supernatural beings. While it is a touching story, angels helping a hapless franchise make the playoffs because of an orphan’s prayers seems a bit unjust. What if an orphan in Seattle had prayed for his beloved Mariners to make the playoffs? Would God seriously side with the Angels just due to their heavenly name and shun the child in Seattle? According to this movie, yes.

A central figure in the film is a washed up starter named Mel Clark, who spends most of the season on the disabled list. Playing a hunch that an angel would assist Clark, manager George Knox decided to start him in the play-off clinching game. Clark toughed through the game without assistance and incredibly, managed to throw nearly 200 pitches. A pitch count this high for an older player coming off of a DL stint is extremely high; hell, a pitch count that high for any one is ludicrous. I think it sets an unrealistic standard for impressionable minds.

In Rookie of the Year, after breaking his arm, a Chicago-area kid realizes that he can throw upwards of 100 miles-per-hour after his arm sets improperly. The Cubs, who are in a mid-season slump, decide to sign the kid and use him as their closer (but more so as a carnival act). How many impressionable minds could possibly have wanted and / or attempted to break their arms after seeing this turn of events? I know that I might’ve tried it if I wasn’t smart enough to realize that it wouldn’t work out. Another thing to think about is that even though he could throw the ball that hard, wouldn’t major league baseball players still be able to hit it? While I’m sure that fastballs thrown nearly 100 MPH are hard enough to hit and it would become exponentially hard after that mark, wouldn’t these pros be able to adapt? Especially given the fact that this kid can only throw one pitch, it seems even more unrealistic that he could have this amount of success.

Even in recent movies, Hollywood hasn’t been able to even apply the simplest rules to some games. In She’s The Man, Amanda Bynes’ coach subbed her out of the game in the first half and later put her back in the game after the half. Anyone who knows anything about the rules in soccer knows that once a player has been substituted out, they cannot come back into the game.

While I am sure that there are other instances in sports movies, particularly youth-geared sports movies, these are the ones that a freshest in my mind. One thing is for sure, while these movies do need “bad guys”, the writers, producers and directors should all incorporate a better sense of realism into movies and remember just how impressionable young minds are.

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