1. List two characters that are given leadership roles that they did not want or did not believe they were ready for. Explain why you chose these two characters. (Do not use Coach Yoast or Gary Bertier as examples for this question.)
Boone did not want to accept the leadership because of racial prejudices and because he felt like he was doing the same thing that was once done to him: taking the team he was given just because of his race and pushing away Yoast. Ronnie tried to refuse leadership because he thought he was not ready. In the end, Boone proves to be the leader that the team needs, and Ronnie manages to deal with the difficulties of leadership, which is why I chose them as examples.
2. While Louis Lastik was not in a formal leadership role, he was truly a leader on the team. Explain how.
From the very beginning, Lastik shows that he has nothing against the people of the other race: he sits down to eat with the black and speaks about black teammates in a positive way. He attempts to make it look natural, but it is obvious that he is acting with a purpose: he tries to lead by example and eventually succeeds.
3. What was one hard decision that Gary Bertier has to make in his leadership role?
The hard decision that Gary makes for the team consists in getting his close friend Ray off the team. Ray understands that it is done because he cannot be truly invested in a racially diverse team; he is offended, which implies that the friendship is ended.
4. Coach Yoast made some decisions that were good for the group, but not so good for him? Explain the two decisions that Coach Yost made like this.
Coach Yoast makes two crucial decisions that can be regarded as a sacrifice. First, he agrees to work “under” Boone to keep the players from leaving and protect them in case Boone turns out to be racist. Second, Yoast does not try to get the team back by helping the school to fire Boone and gives up his chance to get in the Hall of Fame by insisting that the team is judged fairly. He appears to see the team needs Boone. Together with his daughter, Yoast decides that “there is always the next year” and he doesn’t need recognition from prejudiced people. In the end, Boone says that Yoast is in the Hall of Fame from his point of view.
5. While finally breaking through the barrier of black/white, Julius and Gary had an argument about how hard the team was working. During this “discussion” Julius said, “Attitude reflects leadership.” What does this phrase mean to you?
I interpret the argument of Julius and Gary in the following way. They accuse each other of not performing their duty: Julius is not playing as a part of the team, and Gary cannot create this team. Gary says that the players’ attitude does not let the team emerge, but Julius, asserts that leadership comes first, and then the attitude develops.
I agree with Gary that it is difficult to build a team when no one is interested in it, but, as the movie shows, it is possible to do so. Lastik is the only person who had the right attitude from the beginning, but Boone helped the rest to develop it. Similarly, when the leader is “weak,” the attitude deteriorates quickly. I suppose that attitude does tend to reflect leadership.
6. Which characters in the film forged new ground in their relationships with others? Be sure to cite specific characters and support and explain your answer.
The whole situation seems to be a “new ground” to almost everyone with the exception of Lastik and Ronnie, who have never been racist, and Ray, who stays racist. Rev and Alan seem to be the most open-minded players and are fast to accept new relationships. Coach Yoast claims and appears to be tolerant most of the time, but his aversion to working under a black man contradicts this idea. In the end, he admits that he has changed. Sheryl also acknowledges the effectiveness of Boone’s training even though her initial hostility does not seem to be the result of racism.
Gary and Julius appear to be the center of the movie’s attention; their relationship changes dramatically. After the accident, Gary admits that he used to hate Julius, but ended up thinking of him as the closest friend: he even calls him “brother.” Julius’s reaction to Gary’s trauma proves that they are very close.
7. How did playing football help the students overcome their prejudices about each other? What other activities can help people overcome their differences and begin working together?
Playing football sets a goal that can only be achieved by a team, which is why the players have to overcome their hatred and prejudice. In the meantime, the game shows them that both black and white people have talent and can be great players and leaders, and they begin to respect each other. Other activities can cause a similar effect: for example, a diverse military community maintains discipline and demands integrity. The same can be said about workplace diversity, even though the discipline there is less harsh. Finally, a fight against a common foe (for example, a natural disaster) can help to integrate a diverse community.
8. Is there prejudice other than racial prejudice shown in the film?
Other forms of prejudice appear in the movie. Boone, for instance, thinks that football is not supposed to be of interest for women. Ronnie is homosexual, and some of the players (mostly Gary) are hostile to him, but most seem to be indifferent. Petey appears to be overly interested but avoids saying the word “homosexual,” which also implies that it is an issue.
9. Coach Boone applies the statement, “this is not a democracy” to his players and coaching staff. How effective is this as a leadership approach? Why?
The choice of leadership style must be guided by the situation, and Boone’s “tyranny” is one of the few reasonable solutions for the Titans’ case. A “democracy” would not work: if they were to choose, the players would never blend. The team was to be built of people hating each other in record time, and Boone’s approach of forcing them together allowed doing this. Besides, force is not the only thing his leadership is based on. He is inspiring and visionary, and he teaches the players and staff the lesson of integrity and tolerance.
10. Would the team have bonded, had it not won?
I believe that the team would have bonded even without winning. Boone states in his speech: “you are already winners since you did not kill each other.” Later, during the meeting organized by the players and in the speech of Yoast the same idea is expressed: the true victory is them being together despite prejudice. As for the game, the strategy and training played an important part, but Titans also won because they had bonded: they all wanted to win to be perfect as Boone once demanded of them.
Remember the Titans. Dir. Boaz Yakin. Perf. Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Donald Faison, Nicole Ari Parker. Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, 2000. DVD.