Written By: Lisa Kort, Easterseals Marketing and Communications Project Manager
As a mother of a son who is on the autism spectrum, the movie Champions captured my heart. I saw many aspects of my son’s personality in several of the movie’s characters. These young adults are depicted as leading fulfilling lives, sometimes less than tactful, but at the same time very honest, loving, and wonderfully unique. It also reflects Easterseals’ commitment to changing the way people see disability, with an authentic cast of actors who have various disabilities.
Champions: A Movie that Celebrates Uniqueness
Starring Woody Harrelson and directed by Bobby Farrelly, the movie is set in Iowa and tells the story of a basketball coach, Marcus, played by Harrelson. At the beginning of the movie, Marcus is egotistical and a less than stand-up guy who has trouble listening, collaborating, and connecting to colleagues, players, and friends.
Marcus is fired from his coaching job and then goes to a bar where he has too many drinks. After leaving the bar, Marcus is arrested and receives a DUI. The judge on his case issues him a fine and community service to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities.
When Marcus first meets his team, “The Friends,” he doubts that he can have any impact as a coach and help them become winners. However, as he spends time with the players, he learns more about them as individuals and their lives off the court.
For instance, team member Johnny volunteers at an animal shelter and rescues any animal that may be put down. Benny works at a restaurant and is unable to play games because he works for a boss who will not adjust his schedule. Darius, who had a promising career as a basketball player, suffered a brain injury in a car accident while in high school. These are just a few of the team members, each of whom has a backstory about their individual lives.
The movie does a great job conveying that champions come in many forms and winning can be seen and captured through a variety of enduring ways.
Is there a movie about people with disabilities that resonated with you? Let us know in the comments below!
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