Perhaps you hear it echoing through the halls of a team locker room or coming from the television in your living room…
“Everywhere we go—everywhere we go…people wanna know…people wanna know….who we are….who we are-, so we tell them…so we tell them….We Are The Titans!…We Are The Titans!…The Mighty Mighty Titans! -The Mighty Mighty Titans!…”
Some chills run through your body, and you know exactly the weight that this chant carries. Signifying grit, teamwork, and determination that chant has become the battle cry that has inspired sports teams across the nation. But where does it come from, and why do these words hold so much weight?
Remember the Titans, directed by Boaz Yakin, celebrated its 19th-anniversary last week. Set in the 1970s, it tells the true story of the football team from T.C. Williams High Sschool in Virginia. The early ‘70s was a trying time in America as racial tensions drew high in the south following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the passage of the Civil Rights act.
For many, this was the first movie that exposed them to the turbulent race relations in football and the United States at larger.
On the surface, this movie tells the story of race and football, but if you dig deeper you find many lessons that extend beyond and transcend time. Even 19 years after its release and almost 50 years after the timeframe it is set, the movie is ever so relevant.
To celebrate the anniversary of Remember the Titans, here are 10 lessons to remember on the field, at work, and at school.
1) There truly is no “I” in team
We have to work together to get the job done. No one person can carry the weight of the whole time. Whether you are on the field or in the workspace, your team is there to lift you up and empower you. Use everyone at your disposal to your advantage. Remember that the common goal is not just about you. In order to achieve that goal and reach your full potential, you and your team must grow together.
2) “Sometimes life is hard for no reason at all.”
When Carol Boone explained to her husband that, “sometimes life is hard for no reason at all,” it resonated beyond that experience. Life throws curveballs at all of us and while difficult to navigate, there is not always a bigger reason behind them. We can blame someone or something for the current situation we are facing, but that won’t help us solve his. Sometimes bad things just happen, and we have to grow and learn from those bad experiences in order to keep moving forward.
3) Stay true to yourself and your values
Athletes across the board value their ability to compromise. You may not like a play, but you have to listen to your coach because sometimes they can see the bigger picture. However, while you can compromise on certain logistical things, you can’t compromise yourself or your values just to please others. Stay solid in what you believe in and the lessons that you learned from your upbringing but be willing to see other perspectives as well. Compromise doesn’t mean changing things about yourself to fit the majority, rather you should use your unique perspective to add to the conversation to enact meaningful change.
4) Friendship goes a long way
One of the most important relationships to have is friendship. They see you at your best and at your worst. They hold you accountable and believe in you because they know the greatness that you are capable of. Friends see the good in you even when you can’t.
5) The past shines a bright light on the present
Sometimes appreciating what you have requires looking back to the past to see how far you’ve come. When his athletes were still struggling to find common ground, Coach Boone instructed them to, “take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together, right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed — just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not. But you will respect each other. And maybe — I don’t know — maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.” Look at the past, learn from it, and appreciate the progress you have made. Let that progress influence you and your team to move forward together and work for an even brighter future.
6) Change is inevitable…you must adapt
The movie begins with three important contrasts: white vs. black, old generation vs. new generation, and equality vs. inequality. In order for Coach Boone to unify the players and the coaches, he had to change the standard of the football program: the way they practice, the way they think, and the way they live their lives and carry themselves off the field. Coach Yoast was originally closed off to the idea of change, but by the end, he yields to it. “I hope you boys have learned as much from me this year as I’ve learned from you. You’ve taught this city how to trust the soul of a man rather than the look of him. And I guess it’s about time I joined the club.” Change will happen with or without you, and it’s up to you to decide which side of history you want to be on.
7) Break through surface boundaries and build real connections
One night when the Titans were playing yet another all-white school, Coach Boone explained, “They don’t have to worry about race. We do. Let me tell you something: you don’t let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart.” We are in a time where we always have to worry about race. While some people have the privilege of not worry about how their race will affect, they livelihood and everyday life, many Americans still face this harsh reality. While one can’t just look beyond race or pretend that the country is colorblind, it is possible to acknowledge race but learn to look beyond unconscious biases and preconceived notions to see the human inside everyone. Push beyond the boundaries of race and work to educate yourself so you can build real connections with every person in your circle.
8) Anger alone won’t get you anywhere
“You got anger, that’s good you’re gonna need it, you got aggression that’s even better you’re gonna need that, too. But any little two-year-old child can throw a fit! Football is about controlling that anger, harnessing that aggression into a team effort to achieve perfection.”
Coach Boone explained to his players after a brawl. You won’t get anywhere with fighting and it does not create a stronger bond between you and your teammates. Instead, you have the find the root of that aggression, address it, and harness the left-over energy to work towards achieving something.
9) Sometimes you step back, sometimes you stand up
“Big Ju” explained it perfectly when he said, “Attitude reflect leadership captain.” Your attitude both on and off the field will affect those around you. Being a great leader doesn’t always mean standing up and being at the forefront of every issue, development or victory. Leading can also mean admitting when your own personal biases or flaws won’t allow you to successfully approach the challenge at hand. An important part of being a leader is setting an example for your team. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and accept that you are not the best person to tackle this particular obstacle, and that is okay. Instead, you lift up those around you and empower them to find their strengths to work towards completing your goal.
10) Don’t forget to have a little fun
You can grind non-stop to reach your goal, but you can’t forget to have a little fun while you’re at it. Take care of yourself and your teammates. A few jokes in the workroom or belting the chorus to your favorite song in the locker room might be just what you need. People around you like seeing you happy, so remember to celebrate the small victories.
Coach Yoast gave some good advice to his team when he said, “You make sure they remember, FOREVER, the night they played the Titans!”
And we will never forget the Titans, a story that has stayed relevant throughout the passage of time.
Watch the movie and capture quotes that resonate with you. Blast “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on repeat and remember to have fun. Feel the highs and lows as you navigate the challenges that life throws at you on and off the field. But don’t only remember the Titans, remember what the Titans taught you.