Sometimes a piece of film just reaches out and demands your attention.
It can be footage of a monumental moment in history, like the grainy black-and-white image of the late Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, or the young student standing up to the Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square.
But sometimes it’s something else, more personal, that just seems to resonate with a whole generation.
For instance, why is it that everyone (and I mean everyone) still raves about “The Shawshank Redemption” almost 20 years after it was released? Or maybe you still find yourself pondering the haunting video clip that accompanied “Everybody Hurts” by REM many years after the song left the charts.
And why is it that every time I’ve shown the Channel 4 promo for the Paralympics over the past month, to hundreds of people in several different settings, that everyone bursts into spontaneous applause at the end? When was the last time that happened when you watched an advert?
If you haven’t seen the advert yet, it is a sensational piece of film that in 90-seconds completely eviscerates any trace of pity for Paralympians and, in its place, rams home the idea that these “Superhuman” athletes are equally, if not more, impressive than able-bodied competitors!
Somebody at Channel 4 is a genius … because it actually works. Watch it here: http://youtu.be/kKTamH__xuQ
It also reminds me why sport matters to us. Sport of any kind isn’t just about being the best of the best, but about testing your own limitations. Whether that’s a marathon runner pushing for her personal best time or a B-grade basketball team who, despite a terrible start to the season, might still jag a spot in the Grand Final (go Smokin’ Guns).
Sport is tribal. It’s why we go to the footy and cheer our team, wave our flags, sing our team song and phone our mates later on to congratulate or commiserate. We feel the rush of victory and flinch at the pain of defeat, despite the fact that none of us actually pulled on the boots to play.
Sport says something about us. Our roots. Our heritage. For me, my AFL team is based in the area where I grew up and played junior footy. The first church I went to was around the corner from their home oval, I was baptised in the boat harbour nearby, my first date with Ann was in an Italian restaurant on the main street and my first paid media job was for the local club (I was sacked a month later after a power-struggle with the elderly tea lady … but that’s a story for another day). Sport matters because we see something of ourselves in the team or the individual.
Sport can be spiritual. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 talked about training to win the prize, referring to an ancient version of the Olympic games as an illustration for the idea of self-discipline.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Superhuman Redemption. We all love Usain Bolt who, gifted with amazing speed, determination and endless charisma, seemingly glides through any race to gather a glittering bag of gold medals and mega-sponsorship deals.
But try running a personal best without any legs! Now that’s a story that really inspires because, in some small way, it resonates with all of us. We all have issues. We all have something in our lives that has the potential to disable but with discipline and grit, everyone can get back in the race. Superhumans … I like that.
My first novel 'The Deep Enders' released 2016. Available on Amazon and in print.