If you see as many movies as I have —and I’d strongly caution against doing so — you’ll start to notice the patterns. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.
The Myth: No matter the cause, team infighting will always be squashed by the end of the big game.
The Perpetrators: Cool Runnings, Blades of Glory, Mighty Ducks, Major League, Bend it Like Beckham, The Replacements, Remember the Titans, The Program, Summer Catch, Bad News Bears, Bull Durham, The Cutting Edge, Top Gun, Mr. 3000, Semi-Pro, The Express, Rudy
The world of sports is jam-packed with outsize egos contained inside well-muscled, utterly insane packages. In this unpredictable environment, some serious clashes of personality are a given. For instance, if a teammate is gunning for the same position as you, they might automatically hate your bastard-guts despite all the hilarious locker room pranks you bring to the table. At other times, two teammates might not get along for more serious reasons, like a lack of sufficient coverage on the field, or racism. These things happen. It’s amazing, then, that whatever team infighting is depicted in movies always gets resolved in time for The Big Game.
Not all people can work and play together nicely. We all learn this lesson in kindergarten, usually over a barrage of post-Yahtzee noogies, and it is a lesson oft-repeated in the years following. Child athletes are especially prone to finding conflicts. The sassy kid in The Mighty Ducks reveals his Marxian class angst by calling the rich kid, “Cake Eater.” By the time the big game rolls around, Rich Kid and Sassy Kid share a hearty, unprovoked handshake, and “Cake Eater” becomes an affectionate nickname. Fair enough. Putting aside some differences for the greater good is commendable. But Corbin Bernsen’s Rich Guy in Major League forgiving Charlie sheen’s Wunderkind for his Charlie Sheen-like transgression is another thing entirely. A gross thing. “You slept with my wife… but we really need this no-hitter. Let’s shake on it.” Uh, how about let’s not? That’s your wife, man, even if she is an adulterer with Charlie Sheen.
It’s entirely possible for teams to stay functional, even with deep-seated acrimony brewing amongst certain players. According to fan lore, the Yankees have been doing as much for years while Derek Jeter and A-Rod quietly continue their crazy-millionaire pissing contest. The complicated differences between two people can’t always be resolved just in time for the Big Game, and they surely can’t be resolved for absolutely no reason, which is often the case in movies. Sometimes people just hate each other forever. There’s probably someone in your office who hates you right now for some impossibly banal reason, and will never forgive you. It’s uncomfortable when two people who don’t like each other are forced to share space, but if you can withstand the tension of potentially getting your pancreas punctured all the time, you can probably handle some interpersonal discomfort as well.