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Archive for June 3, 2007

June 3, 2007 — A failure to communicate

This weekend, a movie called “Gracie” was released. It tells the story of a female soccer player from the late 1970s who wants to play for her high school in a New Jersey town which does not have the sport for girls.

There are a few problems with the movie, aside from some of the reviews the film has received.

The No. 1 problem, for me, is that the film deals with a problem which does not exist anymore.  The game of soccer is so wildly popular amongst young people — of both genders — that it is difficult to recall a time when it was not so. Too, there were plenty of places where girls’ high-school soccer was taken very seriously in the late 1970s — even in New Jersey.

Trying to watch “Gracie” today is like watching an old episode of “I Love Lucy” or some other vintage sitcom when the plot revolved around the homemaking wife going into the workforce. There was a time when episodes of this nature were not shown in reruns because of the changing roles of women in the 1960s and 1970s.

But what really got me is how the insistence of Gracie’s authority figures to play field hockey instead of soccer is somehow seen as a bad thing. Field hockey is a sport that requires you to use almost four times the number of muscle and nerve fibers than soccer does. It is a sport in which the most athletic player does not always win, but the players with skill, control, discipline, and cunning are the ones who improve the most.

The Internet is now rife with comparisons of “Gracie” to old ABC After School Specials, Bend It Like Beckham, and even the original Karate Kid movie. Oddly enough, the latter starred a very young Elisabeth Shue, on whose life “Gracie” is based.

As such, the movie may be little more than an exercise in therapy; the death of her brother Will strikes an easy parallel to the death of Garrett Hamm, brother of Mia Hamm.

But whereas Mia Hamm went out after Garrett’s death and scored a bunch of goals, started a foundation, and won a World Cup and the Athens Olympics, this story misses the net.