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When The Game Stands Tall

By August 24, 2014 9 Comments

“It’s only a game.”

Only those who know football understand how far away that sentiment is from the truth.

“When The Game Stands Tall,” is a must see movie based on the 151-game winning streak of the De La Salle Spartans and coach Bob Ladouceur.

It took seeing the film to remind me of how much I miss coaching football players.

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Its staggering to think that my sons played a combined 33 seasons of football between them from Atom to the CIS.

For a few of those years I had the pleasure of being called their “Coach.”

A SPORTS BAG FULL OF MEMORIES

Watching the film brought back a flood of fond memories:

the yellow school bus ride to and from games,
crowded locker rooms,
taking a knee for the Lord’s Prayer before every game,
running onto the field of battle,
calling plays on the sidelines,
the gut-shaking sound of high impact hits,
half-time adjustments,
the ecstasy of victories.

The off-key but melodious sound of triumphant football players singing at the top of their lungs coming home on the team bus is unforgettable in many ways.

The players are asked in the movie, “Whose been injured?” Every hand but one goes up.

I’ve seen players taken off on striker boards,
dislocated shoulders
torn ligaments,
lacerated spleens,
concussions,
broken collarbones,
fingers,
wrists,
ribs,
legs,

and hearts.

There are the moments when a crushing defeat has brought macho athletes to uncontrollable sobs and tears.

I’ve watched three National Championships slip away in the final minute.

For many young players, that was their first encounter with inconsolable grief.

STANDING TALL

To be the De La Salle Spartan team that had a streak of 151 straight wins end on their watch is unimaginable heartbreak.

To say, “Its JUST High School football” in no way diminishes its significance – it exposes a lack of understanding.

Coach Ladouceur said that the most important moments in life are following a crushing loss or facing a life altering challenge.

Those moments are about character.

That’s the beauty of football. Its more than a game. Its not the streaks or the titles – football is a catalyst for character building.

WINNING VALUESbob-ladouceur

Coach Bob Ladouceur’s abilities are esteemed on par with his peers in the NCAA or NFL. He reflects the qualities of Lombardi and Rockne.

The ideals he espoused to his team were embraced by every coaching staff on which I was privileged to serve:

Teamwork.
Accountability.
Commitment.
Perfect Effort
Brotherhood.

5 LEADERSHIP QUOTES

1. “We’re not asking you to be perfect on every play.  What we’re asking of you and what you should be asking of each other is to give a perfect effort from snap to whistle.”

2. “Big goals stretch our abilities but are doable when given the effort.”

3. “Winning a lot of games is doable.  Teaching the kids there’s more to life, that’s hard.”

4. “We were never just about winning.  We were built on families.”

5. “Family isn’t just blood relatives.  It’s anyone who loves you unconditionally.”

The great Vince Lombardi said, “Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.”

My sons’ game-worn football jerseys hang, framed, in my office.

They are daily reminders of glorious times…great experiences…gridiron brothers.

APPLICATION: Are you a football fan? Have you seen the movie and if so what did you like best? Please leave a comment below.

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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 27 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 38 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Sierra Caitlyn says:

    I have not seen it but I plan to this upcoming weekend.

  • bob jones says:

    If you enjoy sports or heroic stories, you will enjoy this film. Thanks for commenting.

  • Sierra Caitlyn says:

    Yes I’m big on heroic movies hehe

  • Patricia says:

    I am a football fan. My mom was the greatest
    Edmonton Eskimos fan I ever knew. My love of football came from her. I do plan to see the movie.

  • bob jones says:

    We share a love for an awesome team sport. Its always been a privilege to coach – just like being a pastor. I think you’ll love the movie. let me know what you think. I hope you’ll be at NP on Sun. Sept. 7th when Nate Coehoorn – #85 – shares his story.

  • Mitch Dick says:

    I loved it! I felt the bone crushing hits, I worried, I was elated, I was devastated, I cried, I laughed. This movie, as with a lot of sports movies reminds me of what it felt like being part of a sports family where most are not family, however, they feel like they are family. Kind of like what being a North Pointer is all about.

  • bob jones says:

    I’m glad you liked the film and being a part of the NP family! Its a great team to be on.

  • Patricia says:

    Hi Pastor Bob. I intended to watch When The Game Stands Tall much sooner but finally watched it this afternoon. What an awesome story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a perfect example of working towards the prize but keeping in mind it’s the journey that’s more important. It was all about lessons in growing up for high school students although the lessons are for anyone. It shows how not to become to prideful as eventually this will cause you to fall. It also shows how faith and the support of “family” can build you back up again. As for the game aspect of the movie, I felt like I was right there in the stands cheering the team on through the highs and lows. The coach was changing the lives of the players and at the end the players changed the coach’s life. Isn’t this what life is all about – helping, recognizing and appreciating each other in any way we can. I would watch this movie again.

  • bob jones says:

    I;m glad you enjoyed the film, Patricia! Lots of lessons in character and teamwork and humility. Have you read “Sidelined” by Joe Pagano? Its got great content about NFL football and a coaches battle with cancer. http://bit.ly/1G5SCYQ

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