Tales From My HinJew Parents: How My Dad Used Sports Movies Against Me
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a good sports movie. Remember the Titans has been on my DVR for so long, it’s seen eight roommates come and go. I may or may not have cried when the cable guy accidentally deleted it while reprogramming our cable box. There’s just something irresistible about the combo of a team fighting to win against all odds coupled with cute boys in tight pants that keeps me glued to the TV anytime a sports classic is airing.
But Ryan Gosling’s dimples aside (really, you should watch Remember the Titans ASAP), the best parts of a sports movie are the inspirational speeches. Set to the backdrop of inspirational music that crescendos on the final sentence, the rousing call to arms by a tough coach can make anyone – even day-old burrito eating slacker in sweatpants me – believe they can do anything.
As it turns out, my dad shares the same sentiments. Or at least I assume he does, given the fact that a majority of the life lessons he has tried to impart on me have come while he is quoting a speech from a seminal sports film… despite none of the lessons actually being about sports-related things.
1. “There’s No Crying at the DMV”
I’ll admit it, out of context, this clip from A League of Their Own looks bad. Jimmy Dugan, manager of the Peaches, an All-American Girls’ Professional team, berates one of his players for making a game error. When she starts to cry, he delivers his iconic, flabbergasted line of “There’s no crying in baseball!” My dad was always a big a fan of the Tom Hanks tough love, especially when the time came for me to learn how to drive. My white knuckled grip on 10 and 2 wasn’t because I was commandeering a two-ton car at a breakneck speed of twelve miles per hour, but because the crazy person in the passenger seat next to me was yelling that he’d seen snails clear unprotected left turns quicker. The day of my lesson, I was so nervous I was on the verge of tears. And it was that day, a day the Bellflower DMV will never forget, that my father yelled across the parking lot as an encouraging reminder: “THERE’S NO CRYING AT THE DMV!” (For what it’s worth, I passed my driving test with flying colors.)
Miracle tells the true account of one of the greatest sports stories ever told: a non-professional USA hockey team, cobbled together from an open tryout, beats the undefeated Russian hockey team in the Winter Olympics, at the height of Cold War tensions. The coach, Herb Brooks, is tough on the boys to bring out the best in them – particularly after the team tied a game against Norway after some lackluster play and bad attitudes. He has them line up post-game and keeps making them run skating drills, repeating just one word: “Again.” Apparently my dad took a page from the Team USA playbook when it came time for me to learn basic my times tables. I may have never stepped out on the ice, but the post-traumatic stress of hearing my dad say “Again” while quizzing me on the multiples of nine will linger forever.
3. “The Motivational Guilt Trip”
Remember the Titans is a movie populated by memorable scenes. A quarterback knocking out a defender on a blitz? Check. A player with a broken wrist scoring the game winning touchdown? Check. Ryan Gosling dancing in his underwear? Check, check, check. But it’s this inspirational and completely hyperbolic speech that Coach Boone gives to a player that reminds me of my own dad’s less than honest motivational techniques. (Recapping does it no justice, so tune in around 0:43) Anytime I wasn’t at my normal confidence level, I was reminded by my dad that he moved to this country with nothing but $5 in his pocket and a desire to succeed. Not only did that story instantly make my stress over a pep rally routine seem completely trivial, as it turns out, it was also a complete lie. In addition to his $5 and will to succeed, he came here with another $995 and parents giving him a loan for his college education. I guess we can count it as a small favor that he finally moved away from tough love. Unfortch, it was less of a small favor that the new strategy was just a motivational guilt trip.
4. “You Can Thank Me Later”
Despite my dad’s stellar motivational techniques, there were times where he had to throw in the towel for his own sanity – like the time he assured me he could teach me to drive a stick shift in a day, and after three hours, almost had a nervous breakdown as I stalled the engine for the hundredth time. And it was in these moments that my mom stepped in. Much like Sandy B. in The Blind Side, her level of expertise really knows no bounds, and she has no problem in stepping and showing you what you’re doing wrong. Also like Sandy B., she has no problem reminding everyone that they can thank her later for telling them what they’re doing wrong…and she definitely has no problem reminding everyone when ‘later’ is.
It does need to be said that movie quotes aside, my parents are great motivators. Most of their speeches are significantly less scream-y than the ones above, and it was always my dad who belted out a very cheesy, but very awesome Bollywood song about winning before every dance competition/spelling bee/PSAT that came my way. And heaven help my future children – with the number of sports movies I watch? They’ll be hearing a different speech every day until they turn eighteen.
Featured image via Disney