Movie Critique: The Mighty Ducks - 1 Introduction The first “The Mighty Ducks” movie raises numerous aspects of sociology in sport that will be analyzed in this paper. The two aspects of sociology in sport that were prevalent in the Mighty Ducks movie were: ethics and gender. This movie provides an example of a character who begins the story as a morally bankrupt individual with a “win at all cost” attitude. Through his experience coaching a young hockey team, Bombay learns the true meaning of sport and transforms into ethically and morally sound individual.
The first installment of the Mighty Ducks trilogy also presents an interesting case of a female skater who fulfills the stereotype that girls should figure skate and boys should play hockey. However, the mere inclusion of a girl on a boys hockey team also served to challenge the stereotype at a time when women’s hockey was not nearly as accepted as it is today. The Mighty Ducks Movie provides a study into an ethical transformation, and provides examples of both conforming and challenging gender stereotypes, while providing an engaging story in which appeals to members of society young and old alike.
Ethics: In the sporting world, athletes, coaches, managers, and fans face times when they must make ethical decisions. The moral values and character of the individual may be challenged during many different circumstances. Sometimes this will occur spontaneously within ones subconscious, other occasions it is thought out over a period of time. The Mighty Duck movie poses several situations in which the character’s ethics are in question. Early in the movie, Coach Bombay is sentenced to community service in which he must coach a pewee hockey team.
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This suggests the idea that sport alone has the capacity to teach morality and that it can eliminate deviance. This thinking leans predominantly on the positive aspects of sport, however in doing so, the movie neglected to question the morality of the “win at all cost” mentality Bombay demonstrated in the courtroom and during his earlier playing days. Fortunately, in real life, organized hockey associations in Canada would avoid selecting a head coach who has the power to influence and mould young minds in the manner shown in the movie.
If a convicted drunk driver were to be ordered to serve community service, he or she would already have demonstrated a lack of judgement and ethical standards required to coach minor hockey. “The leadership style of a coach and the strategies they employ in decision-making in the sport setting may have a direct and lasting impact youth” (Kowalski et al. , 2007). Ethically, coaches must be held to a higher set of standards than average members of society. It is the standards put in place by sport organizations that is intended to ensure that all coaches meet or exceed the ethical requirements expected of them by society.
Realistically, theses standards may not always be attainable, particularly in a situation shown in the movie in which financial hardships serves to limit the resources the team has available. However, the Mighty Ducks movie does raise the question of ethical standards for coaches. Early in the movie, there is a scene in which Bombay recalls his own experience in hockey during a championship game in which he was needed to score on a penalty shot. His old coach stated to him “If you don’t make this shot you’re not only letting me down you’re letting the team down” (Walt Disney Pictures).
This had a profoundly negative impact on the ethical development of Bombay at a young age lead him to the selfish, egotistical, and unethical person the viewer sees at the beginning of the film. Once Coach Bombay was assigned a youth hockey team of his own, he demonstrated this same lack of ethics by ordering a player to fake taking a high stick in order to draw a penalty and stated "If we’re going to cheat we have to make the fall look real" (Walt Disney Pictures). While this demonstration of low ethical values demonstrated Bombay’s disregard for the rules, as a coach, these values could easily could have transferred to his players.
However, the reality of the game of hockey is that actions such as these are a regular occurrence. Fortunately, through education, clinics, standards and regulations, efforts are continually being made to teach coaches how their actions impact their pupils. As the Coaching Association of Canada states “when you become a coach, you will help others reach beyond themselves, to reach higher, both in sport and in life. ” Fortunately, Coach Bombay develops and grows, both as a person and a coach.
Through the guidance of an old mentor, influence of young ethically sound players, and personal growth, Coach Bombay comes to realize that there is more purpose in live than can be gained by winning a hockey game. The lessons and values he gained during his experience with the hockey team in his season of growth, allow Bombay to learn the important requirements of being a coach and a moral person which include: "encouraging teamwork, commitment, fair play, sportspersonship, and balancing obligations to individual team members and to the team as a whole" (Russell, 2011, 87).
Coach Bombay demonstrates these requirements by showing change in his coaching philosophy in the Championship game. Instead of trying to “win the game at all cost”, Bombay stated “we may win, we may not... but that doesn’t matter, what matters is that we are here... go have fun” (Walt Disney Pictures). While competitive teams seen in the NHL and the Olympics likely would not take this approach, it is an appropriate coaching philosophy when dealing with 12-13 year old children. Gender: The Mighty Ducks movie makes several references to gender roles and even goes so far as to challenge the accepted norms.
First, the movie initially supported the stereotype that girls figure skate, and boys play hockey. However, when Coach Bombay asked a figure skater named Tammy to join the Ducks because of her excellent skating ability, the male team members initially balked at the idea of having a girl on the team. During the movie, Tammy only had a couple of opportunities to shine, but in each instance it was only to use her figure skating talents for performing a triple axel to get around an opposing player.
Instead the makers of this movie should have taken the figure skates off, put the player in hockey skates, then provided scenes where she could use her agility to skate and stickhandle around the opposition. Apart from the dramatic effect of the figure skating jumps during the game, the writers and producers did not go so far as to break down the perceptions within society that boys should play hockey, and girls should figure skate. The girl player still perpetuates the female role, as she is a figure skater that was recruited for her grace and agility, not encouraged to transform into hockey player.
The vast majority of players in the movie on both the Ducks, and the other teams were boys. This would have reflected what society would have perceived as being very normal at the time this movie was filmed in 1992. While women have participated in hockey since the late 19th century, hockey has predominantly been considered to be a “man’s game. ” However, as Women’s Hockey did not play its first world championship until 1990, and was not introduced to the Olympics until the Japan 1998 Games (McMahon, 2010), it is significant that the writers and producers chose to include a girl on the Ducks hockey team.
During the early 90’s, there were significantly fewer girls playing the game, and the few that did were often discriminated against or shunned. This breaking of barrier and perceived stereotypes in a movie targeted towards children may have influenced these viewers by showing them a girl that is accepted and can contribute to the success of the team. This awareness has also shown women of all ages that they can participate in sports and that it benefits their health and social skills to participate in sports and on a team environment such as is found in hockey.
However, the movie does not directly address the issues and challenges faced by women striving to succeed in a male dominated sport. Choicely and Donnelly state that “strong women challenge the prevailing gender ideology that underlies the norms, legal definitions, and opportunity structures that frame the conditions under which men and women form identities, live their lives, and relate to each other” (226). Conclusion: Through coaching the Ducks, Coach Bombay developed moral and ethical changes and learned to look beyond himself in order to see the greater good.
He transitioned from a “win at all cost” coach, to a teacher who guides his players to be better people. In the end of the story, the message was to enjoy the moment and learn from the journey. The ethical journey displayed in this movie highlights the moral values society often witnesses in sport, ending with ideals and values people expect to see in an ideal world. The movie also highlights gender stereotypes, both conforming to the perception that girls should figure skate and boys should play hockey, and breaking stereotypes of what society at the time considered to be the norms by having girl on the team. By directing this movie at children and young adolescents, the message of the positive ethical transformation, and the breaking of gender stereotypes, provide an entertaining and educational journey which has the potential to affect real change in society. References Coaching Association of Canada. (2012). Coaching 101 Retrieved April 6, 2012, from http://www. coach. ca/coaching-101-s1341 Coakley, J. , & Donnelly, P. (2009).
Sports in Society:Issues and controversies: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. Kowalski, C. L. , Edginton, C. R. , Lankford, S. V. , Waldron, J. J. , Roberts-Dobie, S. , & Nielsen, L. (2007). Coaching efficacy and volunteer youth soccer coaches. Asian Journal of Exercise & Sports Science, 4(1), 9-13. McMahon, D. (2010). Girls Play to Win Hockey. Chicago: Norwood House Press. Russell, J. S. (2011). The Ethics of Sports Coaching: Routledge. Walt Disney Pictures. (Stephen Herek) (1992). The Mighty Ducks.
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