A system is basically separate parts working together to form a whole. The movie, Remember the Titans, illustrates several aspects of a working system including interconnectedness of parts and adaptability to change. Of these aspects there are examples in the movie of interconnectedness of parts, including interdependence, ripple effect, and synergy. Adaptability to change is shown by equifinality, openness and boundaries.
Interdependence is when all members of a group work together to achieve their desired goal. Coach Boone understands that the members need to achieve interdependence to be successful as a team and achieve their goal. He takes them to the cemetery, the site of the battle of Gettysburg and tells the players to,” take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together, we too will be destroyed.” This is when the team begins to realize the extent of their interdependence or lack thereof. Gary and Julius lead the team in working together interdependently.
A ripple effect is a chain reaction that begins in one part of a system and spreads across the entire system. An example of this ripple effect is before the third game when Blue, Gary, and Julius bring the team together in the gym. Blue tells the team that they need to come together. The passion and energy that he puts into his message starts a ripple effect on the team. Because of this, the team reconnects and presents a united front. They march in to the third game in their own unique way showing that they are united and will achieve victory by playing the game as a team.
Synergy occurs when group performance exceeds expectations of success based on the abilities of individual members and is produced when group members work in an interconnected way. Julius says it well before the second half of the last game, the state championship, when he says that Coach Boone demands perfection and none of the teammates are perfect alone, but the team is perfect. He is saying that working together they can be better than any individual on the team alone. They prove that in the second half when they go on to win the game even without the star player Gary Bertier.
Equifinality is the similar or identical final goal reached in diverse ways by two different groups. Coach Yoast and Coach Boone come from different backgrounds and need to reach the same goal of winning the football game. They both have different approaches; Coach Boone is tough on all the players, especially the black players, whereas Coach Yoast sympathizes, and according to Boone, coddles the black layers. An example of this is when Yoast sympathizes with Petey and lets him come over to defense. They both have the same goal and using their very different approaches they make it to the same end result: they win the game.
Openness in a system refers to the degree of continuous interaction with the outside environment. Coach Boone makes black and white players on the team integrate, even though they would rather remain segregated. First, on the way to summer football camp, he does so by making the defensive players sit on one bus and the offensive players on the other instead of one black and one white. He then makes them room together and go to three-times-a-day practices until they learn something about all the other team members of the opposite race and if they don’t, they go to four–times-a -day practices. This leads to the team adjusting and becoming more open to each other in order to avoid suffering any further.
Boundaries regulate input and the degree, rate and desirability of change. Boundary control determines the amount of access the group has to influence from outsiders. Linguistic boundaries were broken down in the locker room when the black players start telling momma jokes. At first Gary Bertier is angry but then Julius defends him and shows him a way into their lingo. At camp there were physical boundaries to regulate the degree of openness. When they went back to school the first day of school, the change is obvious. Even though Gary has bonded with his team-mate Julius, and sees more than his skin color, the environment says something else. Gary introduces Julius to his girlfriend and she snubs him. Julius tells Gary, “Camp over now, huh, back to the real world.”
In the beginning of this movie it seemed that the team would not be a very effective system. They disliked each other and did not want to work together. Through the ripple effect started by Coach Boone they began to see that they would need to, at the very least, respect each other even if they did not like each other. The team became interdependent after going on a run to the cemetery; this lead to a more positive synergy. The team definitely had to be able to adapt to change by increasing their openness and shifting their boundaries. Overall, even given the obstacles they had and the boundaries between the white and black players, they came together successfully and were a very effective team, demonstrating their effectiveness as a system by first learning to work together at camp and then going on to have the perfect winning season.
- Remember the Titans (2000). Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2013-02-27.