When Visionary Coaches Recruit Athletes From Completely Different Sports

When you’ve seen 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 of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.

Any coach who implements some wacky new strategies to get a team out of a slump might be on the right track. There’s a thin line, though, between following one’s muse and obeying the voices in your head. A losing season is no time for a football coach to test out theories about Kathy Ireland, soccer player, when it comes time for a replacement kicker. Thinking outside the box is great; just not when the box is, itself, located inside a much bigger box filled with garbage-ideas.

Assuming that a player’s skills will hold up in any sport is like assuming a short order cook is also a great dancer because he’s wearing “movement clothes.” Some athletic skills, like speed and agility, are indeed transferrable, but nothing inherently pre-qualifies players in different sports at a professional level. The tennis swing is different from the golf swing and they’re both different from the baseball swing. It’s a fact. Michael Jordan was the most brilliant basketball player in the NBA, but in the MLB he was just a turd out there.*

You can’t just rally around a player’s one amazing selling point and hope that nobody exploits their many other weaknesses. That’s the same reason it would be ridiculous to recruit that other sports movies standby: the all-around great player with one tragic failing, usually the inability to CATCH THE BALL. “Oh, he’s good. But can he catch?” Smash cut to a guy getting hit in the larynx with a football, falling ass over teakettle. At least the guy who can’t catch can work on his flaw in time to complete the game-winning pass in the final drive of the season. (It won’t be the showboating wide receiver who’s finally found humility, that’s for sure.) The player from another sport has no business being out there

Unfortunately, that player does occasionally emerge in movies, validating the idea of the wise, unorthodox coach. It’s a dangerous strategy for movies to endorse, though, as any aspiring non-traditionalist coaches watching may then attempt to get a champion cricket player on their hockey team and kill the poor bastard. Such cross-pollination ideas are best confined to the realm of a seventh grade D&D tournament, where the question of whether a zombie could beat a Dracula at arm wrestling might merit equal mulling over.

Here are some movies that featured visionary coaches getting vindicated: The Replacements, Happy Gilmore, Necessary Roughness, The Waterboy, Forrest Gump, D2: The Mighty Ducks, The Cutting Edge Did I forget any examples? If so, leave them in the Comments.

* Deion Seanders and other hybrid athletes are a different story, of course.

Joe Berkowitz edits books and writes stuff. He also has a Tumblr.

When Visionary Coaches Recruit Athletes From […]