Alex Aguilar ENC 1102 Research Paper 3/8/13 Final Draft
The Real Story Behind The Muscles Blinding white lights, a stadium full of jubilant fans, and the echo of the marching band vibrating throughout the stadium. These are all descriptions of an average sporting event, however this description can also be linked to a different scenario that I bet you would not have thought of originally. I am talking about movies. On a more specific note, I am talking about athlete movies. Types of movies such as “Friday Night Lights” and “Remember the Titans”. These movies are all based around one central theme and that is sports. There are countless movies like the above mentioned one and these movies are constant hits with the viewing public. Now while I sat down and watched some of these movies for myself, I noticed that there was always a similar strong underlying factor in all of these movies. This factor is the typical “Jock”. Now what is a “Jock”? This word can be heard a lot and many people have their own personal image of what a Jock is but is there really a definition of a Jock? And to this I say yes there is. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a jock is any athlete, however they are most likely athletes in school or college. That was the textbook definition of a jock, but I know for a fact that everyone has their own preconceived notions of what a jock is to them. For example, in my years as a high school student, I was what you could consider a jock. I played soccer for my nationally ranked team and after soccer season I would swim for the swim team. So I am no stranger to sports. With much of my time focused on sports, I did not have time for much else after practice and homework was done so finding friends was not an easy task.
Athletes will usually stay close friends with their teammates and other athletes because it was much easier to see these people on a day to day basis. So my fellow “jock” friends and I were a very closely knit group. Therefore it is understandable that I would ask them to watch the movies with me. After watching about three full movies, we all came to roughly the same decision. We did not like how the jock was portrayed in all of these movies. This was my main reason for picking this particular subject to write about. So in the paper, I will be focusing on one specific type of jock, the football jock. What I will be look at is how the jock is portrayed in all these movies and how the jock is changing in modern day films. The main thing that I want to talk about is the “Walk In”. Now what do I mean by the “Walk In”. Well I am talking about the scene in almost all sports movies where the camera starts off at the players feet and slowly moves up to show the player in his uniform preparing to walk onto the freshly cut football field. This is the only scene that us “Jocks” are able to deal mainly because it is true. The “walk in” is always a very emotional and adrenaline inducing part of sports. So this is the only thing that many sports movies have gotten right. So this is a must in almost all sports movies. For example, I remember in the movie “Remember the Titans”, the “walk in” scene starts by showing the packed field bleachers. The camera then slowly moves back to show a few of the players fully clothed in their game gear. The players then slowly emerge from the side tunnel and start running onto the field. This is when you see that it is actually the whole team behind them and that they are accompanied by the coaches and assistant coaches. This is always a very emotional part of the movies. Usually before this scene, the team has just gone through a very difficult problem and they have just resolved the solution. Thus this
scene can be seen as a final bonding moment between the teammates. It shows that the team can finally come together and work to win the game and overcome each of their obstacles. The “Walk-In” is the main cliché in athletic movies. And this is because it is extremely effective. It’s as plain and simple as that. I cannot speak for everyone but I know from firsthand knowledge that the “Walk-In” is an extremely emotion scene. Personally it is one of my favorite scenes. When I see that camera slowly starting to pan out and reveal the team, I get weird goose bumps on my arms. I feel a rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins as if it were me standing in that tunnel. But if you think about it, I am just sitting in a crowded movie theatre and I haven’t moved for over an hour, why is it having such an effect on people. Well I finally decided to sit down and really dive deep into. And I came to the conclusion that it has to do with vulnerability. Now what do I mean by vulnerability. Well the “Walk-In” is not merely a team of football players running out onto a field. No, it is more than that. The players running out onto the field is a symbol for acceptance. The entire team is running out onto the empty field and they are putting themselves out there for the public to judge. They are going out to show the public that they are a team worth their support. So you can see that the players are not just coming to play a game; the players are making themselves vulnerable to the criticism of the crowd because the crowd can either accept them as a team or reject them off the field. This is the only scene that us “Jocks” are able to deal mainly because it is true. The “walk in” is always a very emotional and adrenaline inducing part of sports. So this is the only thing that many sports movies have gotten right. Therefore as you are being enveloped into the movie, you are becoming one of the characters. You are being brought along while this team of misfits finds the courage to work
together and make a difference in their school. Thus you are becoming emotionally attached to all of the characters and this make ourselves feel as if we are opening ourselves up too. I have just finished going over the “Walk-In” but I would now like to start getting into a topic that I take to heart very seriously. I want to get into the persona that is The Jock. The jock has always been a character that the viewer always had their own personal opinions about. Some people see him as the incredibly attractive and muscular man of their dreams while others see him as a pompous
Neanderthal that needed to
assert his dominance over his
fellow classmates. But how
did these assumptions come
into our minds you ask.
Well it’s simple, through
movies. Our views of the
jock may be different for
instance if you watched “A
Cinderella Story” rather than
“Friday Night Lights” but
nevertheless you have an image. Now there are two characteristics in particular that all movie jocks have in common and those are brain power and narcissism. An article on tvtropes.org described the old movie jock as “A boorish, obnoxious, spiteful asshole with an out-of-control sense of entitlement”. You may think that this description is a bit harsh but if you were to watch some older movies from the 1980s and 1990s such as “The Revenge of the Nerds”, you could see that this is a pretty spot on description. For example, throughout the entire movie “The Revenge of the Nerds” you see a group of nerds constantly being tormented by these big and popular Jocks. The Jocks not only verbally abuse the nerds but they also physically will harm the nerds. This is just showing how the jocks are put as giant bullies that have nothing better to do with their time rather than make other people’s lives hell like the nerds. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to be able to laugh at a certain social group for a little while but these exact
characteristics were used for so long and in so many movies that they have turned into characteristics that have stuck to athletes to this day.
In high school, I was what you could consider a jock. I played for two varsity teams and I was pretty popular in my school. So this is a subject that I have firsthand knowledge of. I was well known for being exceptionally good at sports however why grades were unknown by many. And this was because not much was expected of me when it came to academics. Not many people knew that I was in the top 5% of my class, scored an 1850 on my SAT or that I received scholarships for more than sports. So the characteristics in those types of movies are still affecting athletes to this day. For example, in the movie â€œNot Another Teen Movieâ€? the jocks portrayed in this movie are loud, obnoxious, dumb, and extremely rude to the student body, especially to the nerds. In one of the scenes, you will literally see a jock in a letterman jack pick up a nerd standing in a group and launch them into a nearby trash can. Stereotypes like these have placed a bad rap on athletes everywhere. They have caused athletes to become singled out as C & D students when many of us where A & B students. A statistic done by my school even showed that the students that would partake in sports were almost two times more likely to graduate rather than drop out. This stereotype and ostracization has not gone unnoticed. The NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, has noticed this and has taken a part in fighting this stereotype. The NCAA has spent millions to create flyers, billboards, and internet ads. Most notably the NCAA created a commercial that has been running for many months now. It is most commonly seen during the commercial breaks for professional and college sports games. In this commercial, you see many notable athletes such as Cynthia Dallas and Toyin Augustus and they all are working out. Some are running, some lifting weights
and some even running. All common scenarios when you think of a college athlete. But as you watch these athletes work out, you hear Cynthia talking in the background. Cynthia is talking about statistics that the NCAA has found such as average grades of division one athletes, along with the percentage of athletes that obtain jobs in something other than sports. For example more than half of the student athletes in the NCAA will go on to have jobs that are not even in the sports field. This commercial is meant to shatter the preconceived notions that all athletes are dumb. Even at the end of the commercial, the final scene shows Cynthia bent over trying to catch her breath and the last words she says are ““Still think we’re just a bunch of dumb jocks?”. This commercial has been viewed by millions and it is the NCAA’s intention to help wash away the negative stereotypes that surround athletes. So the mindset of the athlete is looking up. This can also be seen in the movies that are being made in the past couple of years. Movies such as “The Blind Side” are trying to reform the way that athletic movies are made. The movie is based around this young African American that grew up in a very poor area. His size was always something that distinguished him from everyone else. After being taken in by an upper class family, they decide to put his weight and height to use and sign him up for football. After several failed practices and scrimmages, he finally gets the hang of it and it turns out that he is extremely talented in football. This movie is more than just the typical football movie. This movie focused more on the person rather than the sport. This movie went in depth into who the jack was, how he grew up, and his struggles to become the person he was today. You saw the
main character run and lift and scrimmage but you also saw the character staying up late at night studying to be able to do well in classes. This drew a whole new crowd of people to see the movie. With most football movies, the main audience was guys with the occasional girlfriend or two but this movie brought in swarms of men, women, and children of all ages. This movie became such a hit because it focused so deeply on the main character that you actually cared for the character. You cared about his losses and his failures. Also when you found out that it was based on a true story, you cared about how he turned out as he grew older. These types of movies are changing how the â€œJockâ€? is being seen by not only the public but by also movie writers and directors. The movie industry is now realizing that the age of the dumb jock is out the door. The movie industry is realizing that people are tired of seeing the smug and arrogant jock. The viewers want to see the real jock. The public has seen jocks in their true light and they now know that they are no longer bullies or delinquents. They are just hard working students who have a passion for sports. We are living in an age where a person can be a sports all-star and still graduate from a great college. A prime example of this is Jeremy Lin. Jeremy played basketball for Harvard and this is where he excelled in the sport. Yes, much of his time is spent on the court, but he also spends a lot of time studying because Harvard is not a university where you can slide by without doing work. However this can still be seen from an obscure angle. You could still believe that these athletes were only able to make it into certain colleges because of their athletic ability and less on their academic. That if they were to stand alone with only their academic, they would have no chance to even be able to apply to some of these prestigious universities. Well it basically comes down to who the person is rather than what he/she has done. A university will not accept a player that they know will fail after just one semester because this would be a waste
of time for them. They find players that they know have heart. They find people that they know if given the opportunity to be successful; they will fight for it and give it their all. So sure some of these athletes may not measure up in academics to the other students but they more than measure up in their willingness to succeed at whatever obstacle is put in their way. Jeremy Lin is now playing in the NBA but he still has his college degree that he can use if he decides to not stick with professional basketball. These kinds of people are drawing the attention of the media and they are all working as mile markers for how the stereotypes are changing. Finally, one major way that I think these movie stereotypes of jocks can be washed away is by removing the word itself. The word “Jock” has just been so saturated with these ideas and characteristics from the movies that it is hard to change the meaning of the word. This is why I suggest that we steer clear of using the word jock entirely. Rather, you can call then people for what they really are and that is an athlete. The athlete is a very special character and persona not only in movies but also in the real world. Athletes are kind of the glue that creates high school social life. A study done at UCLA has shown that athletics in general are great for growing children and young adults. They found that athletes displayed “higher self-concept and more internal locus of control”. In the day in age that we are now, being able to boost a teen’s self-concept is extremely important. In a study done by DoSomething.org, it shows that nearly seventy percent of teenage girls and fifty percent of teenage boys consider themselves to have a low self-esteem. These problems will lead to the teenagers growing up and having all sorts of different problems such as depression and disorders such as eating disorders.
So you can see that athletes are more than just mindless ball throwing machines. After reading this paper, I hope that you can try and reconsider your idea of a jock. Now I do not want you to merely take what I have said and craft your new idea around that. I would rather you use this paper as an outline. Use my points and examples to create your own version of what a jock really. This way you will no longer have that image of the egotistical bully jock in the back of your head. So I would like to leave you with a quote by Alberto Juantorena who was a great Olympian; â€œWe need to promote the great qualities of athletics - and maintain its integrity - all over the worldâ€?.
Resources"About Jocks as a Youth Subculture." UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools. (2009): n. page. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/youth/jocks.pdf>. "Jerk Jock." tvtropes.org. n. page. Web. 26 Apr. 2013 <http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JerkJock>. Porter, Kristen. "NCAA pushes back on dumb jock myth. "National College Athletic Association. (2011): n. page. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.