Run The Dang Ball, Burt!

Dang BallOne of our family’s favorite movies is “The Blind Side.” As you know this is the one about the rich white family takes in and adopts the homeless black young man. Seventeen year old Michael Oher, an extremely large, physically imposing black youth, grew up in the projects in Memphis. He no longer lives with his drug addicted mother, but is in foster care when he isn’t running away to sleep wherever else he can find. Out of circumstances including Coach Burt Cotton’s belief that he would be an asset to the school’s football program based solely on his size and seeing him move, Michael is accepted into Wingate Christian School – an exclusive private school – despite his abysmal 0.6 GPA. After Michael starts attending classes at Wingate, most of his teachers believe he is unteachable, except his science teacher, Mrs. Boswell, who begins to understand that he learns in a different way.

Believing he is indeed homeless, Caucasian and staunch Republican Leigh Anne Tuohy – mother of Wingate students, teen Collins Tuohy and adolescent S.J. Tuohy, and wife to Sean Tuohy, franchise owner of several Taco Bells – invites Michael to stay in the Tuohy’s upscale home for the night. But that one night slowly extends itself both in terms of time and emotion as the Tuohys begin to treat Michael like one of the family and vice versa. Part of that emotional investment for Leigh Anne is fully understanding Michael as a person so that he can fulfill his potential as a human being, which includes giving him opportunities such as what Coach Cotton initially saw in Michael as a potential left tackle. Potential problems include Michael’s poor academic standing which may prohibit him from participating in extracurricular activities at the school, his learning disability which may extend to other aspects of his life beyond his schooling, whether he actually can play football, and authorities questioning Leigh Anne and all the Tuohy’s motivations in inviting Michael into their home and family. I tend to believe that the Tuohy family did what they did because of their faith and not of their love of Ole Miss football.

There are a couple lines in the movie that make my ears perk up. One is the conversation between Sean and Leigh Anne, as they watch their Ole Miss tutor who has come to help Michael. The tutor has just confessed that she was different – she was a Democrat. Sean looks at Leigh Anne and says; “I never imagined that we would know a Democrat before we would have black son.”

The second is the thought I had for today. It is their first football game with Michael playing. Burt kept calling for plays for passing the ball. It wasn’t working. Leigh Anne took out her cell phone and called Burt (on the field) from the stands. Her words were pointed, direct and forceful: “Run the dang ball, Burt!” Apparently Burt, even though  a coach, couldn’t see what his team needed to do, where their strengths are, or how they could get the job done. He needed someone to remind him what to do.

Sometimes we are just like Burt, we don’t see the real problem or a way around the problems before us. I spent four years in the Marine Corps. We were taught that Marines adapt, innovate and overcome. So what if there is this little old hill 881 in front of us… So what if they have machine guns, mortars and rockets on top of that hill… We have the will to win. We can call in air power to even out the battlefield. We don’t just sit there on our blessed assurances, we point our troops in the right direction and take that hill. And so we did one more time on Easter Sunday 1968. Indecision and procrastination can destroy our will to win. Identify the problem, check out your resources, and move forward to win the prize – fulfill your mission.

In checking your resources don’t forget to know that our greatest resource is the Spirit of God living within us, empowering us to overcome and move forward. Walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He is the way through and the power to adapt and overcome.


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