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Remember the Titans.

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Michael Catanzaro 12-03-03 Remember the Titans Jerry Bruckheimer's Remember the Titans is based on the true story of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The film chronicles the Virginia School Board's seemingly insurmountable task of integration in 1971, and the consequential response of the community. The state's most successful high school football program was forced to integrate with a black school. The School Board unwittingly initiated the conflict that was necessary for adaptive change. The Coaches are there to help orchestrate and manage the conflict as well as model appropriate behavior for the football players. Characters within the movie serve as archetypal of the community at large and in doing such, represent various dysfunctions that organizations and even society as a whole operates with everyday. It can, at times, be difficult to summarize what sports can mean to a community. I think of Boston and what their sports teams mean to their community. When talking with family and friends there, it is obvious that sports fulfill a need for the community. They are united in victory, and sadly, brought together by the agony of defeat. This is evidenced not only in casual conversation, but also in the talk radio shows focused on the sports teams in Boston that saturate the airwaves. For many small towns, a successful high school football program can play that same role. The T.C. Williams football team had traditionally served as the definition for success in Arlington Virginia. Winning several state championships and having an All-American football star, the community not only cheered for this team, but they cared about it. It served as the rallying point, as Sheryl Yoast who is this? Can you talk about her without any prior introduction, or other citation? Maybe just a quick reminder of who she is. put it, "In Virginia, High School football is a way of life, it's bigger than Christmas day." ...read more.


At times, Boone articulated that Yoast was stepping on toes by babying the players, while Boone was trying to be very hard nosed with them. This was especially evident at camp before the Gettysburg run. When Boone had woken the football players up at 3:30 in the morning, Yoast comments in front of the players that they aren't at boot camp. Boone gives a quick glare, turns around and starts running. Coach Boone was raising the anxiety level to the point where adaptive work could take place. Whether the intent was to get the players to unite and be angry with him, or wear them down to the point of exhaustion, the outcome was ultimately the beginning of a team forming that night. The leadership of the coaches, serves as a model of leadership to the students. Gerry Bertier, a white All-American, and the team captain, gives the verbal okay for the white players to start playing that night by calling out one of his white teammates who had intentionally missed a block. By Bertier calling out his white teammate, he showed that it was no longer acceptable for players to hide behind their race as an excuse for not performing. Coach Boone had effectively orchestrated the conflict to a point where this adaptive change could take place. Just as the coaches had worked out their differences and learned to balance each other out, the players were called upon to do the same. The players, as the season progressed, began to offer their starting positions to teammates of different races if that teammate was more qualified. By the end of the season the team was truly functioning as a complete unit. It was the player buy-in that eventually led the Titans to greatness. Two games into the season, when the team had gone 2-0 two of the 'role players' on the team called a team meeting. ...read more.


In the montage of footage during their mid-season winning streak a quote on locker room mirror flashes briefly on the screen which reads: "reflection is the better part of a champion." Adaptive change can call authority figures to be role models and in some part victims of positive adaptive change. It is in this context where we can look to emulate leaders. Let us not forget the distinction between a leader, an authority figure and a manager. Leaders call us to do what is right for the right reasons. In doing this, the integrity of the process is as important as the outcome. Authority figures and managers however, aren't necessarily as concerned with the process as the product. Remember the Titans offered many opportunities to examine various leadership styles. It was also an opportunity to take a look at the different ways authorities interact with one another, as well as other leaders. The movie is a reminder that adaptive work is a slow and tedious process. Every step forward in the process is small, while any setback may be huge. With this in mind, we must not become victims of our experiences and of our lives. We must stop reacting to situations and begin to look at why we are conditioned to respond the ways that we do to different stimuli. Many of my struggles with this class have centered around my desire to inspire adaptive change within others. I now see that I alone can do little to help this process. Adaptive change is the result of partnerships and collaboration between leaders and followers. Each plays an integral role in the process. The eventual success of the T.C. Williams High School Football Team was the product of the hard work and dedication of the coaches, players, players families, teachers and Arlington community. Without even one of these components, the process couldn't have happened. When facing adaptive challenges now, we can look to the Titans spirit for inspiration to reflect the integrity, strength and courage they demonstrated. ...read more.

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