Main Point: You’re only as good as the people you associate with.
Movie – The Gridiron Gang
Every once in a while a film is released that reminds youth workers that we can make a difference: Coach Carter, Stand and Deliver, Renaissance Man…
this is one of those films. If you haven’t seen it, stop by the video store tonight and pick it up. (As I mentioned in my review, yes, there is some violence and pretty bad language speckled throughout the film—a realistic glimpse of our institutional system. But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. This film is a gem. This is the type of film I would have shown to my outreach clubs when I worked with a pretty tough group of campus kids. This raw film reveals a realistic glimpse of street life, tough choices, and their consequences. The film is very real and earns its PG-13 rating.)
The movie is about a counselor in a juvenile detention center who wants to give kids a second chance. He starts a football team to teach them discipline, teamwork and accepting criticism.
This movie has several good clips that you could use to promote discussion. We have three different discussion starters on different subjects from this one film on our website. This is just one of them.
Clip: “You’re gonna die.”
In this scene Coach Porter has a one-on-one conversation with an inmate named Roger about the friends he chooses. Use the following introduction to introduce the clip.
Today I want to show you a clip from the movie The Gridiron Gang. Many of you have already seen this movie, but for those who haven’t, this scene is a conversation between a juvenile prisoner named Roger and Coach Porter, played by The Rock. Coach Porter is a counselor in a juvenile detention center who wants to give kids a second chance. He starts a football team to teach them discipline, teamwork and accepting criticism. In this scene, Coach asks Roger some poignant questions about his future.
The scene begins with Coach Porter walking into the solitary cell with a rolled up newspaper and smacking Roger around. A few words are exchanged, including a few cuss words… then Coach asks Roger some questions. If you want to avoid the language, start the scene at exactly 4 minutes and 5 seconds into the film, when Coach throws the newspaper down to talk. Here’s the dialogue:
Roger you’re 17 years old. Where are you gonna be in 4 years, huh?
I don’t know.
Answer me. Where are you going to be when you’re 21.
(pause) Probably in jail.
What? (yelling) Look at me. What’d you say?
(louder) IN JAIL!
No. You’re not going to be in jail. You’re going to be dead! (Coach squats down to get a little closer.) You’re a good kid Roger, but you’re going to be back out on the streets tomorrow; back in your hood with your homies. You wanna stay alive; you gotta make a life for yourself outside of your set. If you don’t do that—if you don’t find an alternative, you’re going to die. STOP HERE AT 4:54
(Coach pauses for three seconds, then delivers another line about being there for him if he wants to talk. But I like to stop the clip after the word “die.”
For those of you who decide to watch the film further, you’ll see what happens to Roger when he’s released in the next scene. Heart wrenching scene!)
In this scene, Coach isn’t gentle with his words. He tells Roger the way it is. If Roger continues to hang out with the friends he associates with… he will die. It’s that simple.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, let’s go around the circle and finish this sentence about our favorite thing to do with our friends: You would usually find me and my friends… (i.e. hanging out playing video games, playing football, picking up on girls…)
- ASK A FEW: In the scene we just saw, what do you think the coach was trying to communicate to Roger? (leader answer: you are looking for an answer more than just “you’re going to die.” Coach said, “You wanna stay alive; you gotta make a life for yourself outside of your set.” In other words, you need to choose new friends.)
- ASK A FEW: Why did Roger need to choose new friends?
- ASK A FEW: What are some of the reasons that people might need to choose new friends?
- ASK A FEW: What are a few of the reasons that some of us in this circle might need new friends?(answering the question about ourselves… not others)
- In another scene in the movie, the coaches quoted the Bible. The Bible is a great place to find answers. Right now, let’s read the following passage from the Bible about who we hang out with:
Proverbs 2:12-15, NIV
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.
- ASK A FEW: This passage tells us that wisdom will save us from what kind of people—what are some of the descriptors the verse uses to portray these people?
- ASK SOMEONE: What does it mean to say “whose words are perverse?”
- ASK SOMEONE: What does it mean to “leave the straight paths and walk in dark ways?”
- ASK A FEW: How can someone delight in doing wrong or rejoice in the perverseness of evil… is this a serial killer, or something much more tame?
- ASK SOMEONE: What does it mean when someone is “devious in their ways?”
- ASK A FEW: Why would we hang out with people like this?
- ASK A FEW: What could result in hanging out with people like this?
- ASK A FEW: The scene in the movie ends with Coach warning Roger, “You wanna stay alive; you gotta make a life for yourself outside of your set. If you don’t do that—if you don’t find an alternative, you’re going to die.” Do you believe that is a reality for some of us?
Will Smith was interviewed by Teen People Magazine and he said something profound. He said, “The best thing that anybody ever said to me is that you’re only as good as the people you associate with. Look at the five friends that you spend the most time with—that’s who you are.”
(Rapper/actor Will Smith, Teen People, August 2004, p. 102.)
What if Will Smith is right? What if the coach in this movie is right? What if the Bible is right? What if our friends do affect our destiny? Might some of us need to choose new friends?
Some of you are standing at a crossroad right now. The scary thing is that you don’t even know it. But even tonight, as you make decisions about your future, you could be choosing the difference of life and death. It’s your choice. No one can make it for you. But people definitely will influence the direction you choose.
Tonight you have the power to walk out of here with a clean slate, a fresh start. You have the choice to walk in the way of wisdom and be saved from death. Choose life tonight. Choose your friends wisely.