Change in Action in Remember the Titans
In Remember the Titans, T.C. Williams High School is the scene of integration and community racial tensions. African-American coach Herman Boone is given the job of head football coach, displacing former white coach Bill Yoast. Boone faces numerous challenges from the community and from the players in trying to bring the team together as one despite the obstacles that come up along the way.
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Over the course of the story, Boone and Yoast come to an understanding and are able to teach the players that on the football field race does not matter and that they can win as one team.
Step One: Create Urgency
Coach Boone has several issues that he had to identify and deal with in his efforts to unite the team and be a successful coach. These included: lack of community support, threats from within the community, antagonism from the white coaching staff and resistance from the players to work together. Boone dealt with each of these problems head on. For instance, Boone took advantage of the preseason training camp in order to get the team and the coaching staff into an isolated place outside of any community influence. Here, he broke the team down and could deal with the racial tensions without any outside interference so that he could rebuild them as one team.
Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition
Boone knew that in order to unite the team, he would need the support and help from the former coach the white players knew and loved. Boone also realized that without Yoast as part of the team, his efforts to bring the players together would be much more difficult. In convincing him to stay, he would have a strong leadership base to deal with the boys.
The other essential element to make a strong coalition was to get the team captain to come over in support of the players working together as one team. With these two on his side, Boone had the support he needed in order to lead the team into a successful season.
Step Three: Create a Vision for Change
At training camp, Boone took advantage of the location in order to start rebuilding a vision for the team this season. He takes them on the run one morning and stops them on a section of the Gettysburg battlefield. His explanation of why the men had fought there and died had an impression on the players. He also defined at each practice how they would be perfect in every play in every game. Anything other then their best effort was repaid with harder work to push the and together.
Boone also treated all the players the same, regardless of color. He didn’t allow Yoast to coddle any of the black players, either. He was hard on everyone and would set a black player on the bench in the game as he would a white player. Also, when the team captain requested that a white player be taken off the team, Boone made him make that decision and stand by it himself.
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
During the preseason training camp, Boone removed the boys’ ability to isolate themselves from one another by making the defensive players and the offensive players sit together on the bus. He also required that one white player be a roommate to a black player. This forced the boys to have to interact.
Everyone was held to the same standard and, in being treated the same, Boone removed any excuse they might have for accusing him of preferential treatment. This build trust and an environment where the boys had only two choices: to play or to quit the team.
Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins
During the practices, Boone saved his praise for only when the team worked together and ran the place correctly. This use of selective praise and equal treatment created moments of celebration within the team. Boone also took things one step at a time. He first dealt with the racial issues, acknowledged leadership in individuals such as the team captain and encouraged them when they needed it. By empowering the boys to take responsibility for their actions and for the team, Boone created an environment where they were brought together one success at a time. He knew that trying to reach too far too fast would only create more tension and problems.
Step Seven: Build the Change
Boone carefully analyzed each game and situation, looking for room for improvement. Changes were made in players where they needed to be, even going so far as to add another player that was new to the school who showed talent. Boone, as the season progressed, opened up his own mind as well to new ideas. For instance, in the final game he accepts the suggestion from Yoast to use a different types of play against the other team. He also never stops pushing the team to pursue the idea of a perfect season and to improve their individual football skills. He even goes so far as to encourage one player who has academic problems to raise his grades.
Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
Boone reminds the team continually that they are the Titans and tells them of the mythical significance of the name of their team and what it means. He even has them warm up before games in a manner that sets them apart. As the team congeals together and matures over the course of the season, he also supports Gary in his role as the team’s captain. He accepts Yoast’s advice to let Gary deal with a situation in which a white player doesn’t block for black player.
When Gary is in a car accident and is unable to play, Boone encourages the new player, who is the quarterback, to be strong in charge on the field. He reminds the team that they are playing for Gary and make them responsible for their own success. At the end of the film when Gary has passed away, the team comes back together for his funeral and to remember the legacy that the team left behind. By reiterating the team’s motto of perfection, equal treatment and focusing on winning as a team, the boys are given a strong focus that lasts throughout the season.
Evaluation of Change Results and Learning Lesson
This film is an excellent example of how using change effectively within a group can lead to successful results. Boone used each opportunity to its utmost and was able to keep a strong focus for the team . This allowed the team to come together on its own, with his guidance, and to overcome the racial tensions that the community brought to the situation. In the end, the community even came around as well. I have learned that by looking at change as a fluid process, you can take advantage of any situation and turn it to a positive end.
Yakin, Boaz (Director). (2000). Remember the Titans [Motion Picture]. United States:
Walt Disney Video.