I must be honest up front in saying that I am not a big sports fan. You won't catch me sitting on the couch for hours on end watching Bowl games with my buddies, high-fiving when the favorite team scores. However, I do enjoy on occasion watching a sports movie and I have seen my share of the overkilled plot lines of "coach saves underdog" or "unknown becomes star and fulfills dream." I was taken by surprise with the George Clooney-directed Leatherheads.
The time is around 1925 and the popularity of college football overshadows professional football and the latter is viewed as a joke, a point made in the opening scene when Carter "The Bullet" Rutherford (played by John Krasinski of The Office), a college football star, is asked if his next step is professional play. He pauses for effect, then breaks out into hysterical laughter along with all the reporters. It turns out that Carter's next step is the military where he becomes a war hero. The movie follows Dodge Connolly (Clooney), a middle-aged professional player who helps get "The Bullet" recruited for his pro team. Enter Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger), a reporter with an assignment to uncover the real scoop on if this young buck, Carter, really is a war hero because there is talk that the story of his heroism is greatly over exaggerated. Competition ensues, both on the football field and on the romantic field, over "Miss Littleton," between Dodge and "The Bullet." At times there are some rather humorous exchanges as the two men battle to see who is the better man. Who will emerge victorious? Will Lexie Littleton get her story and, if so, what will her story be? Will professional football finally be taken seriously? You will have to watch and see. I enjoyed it.
So, apart from the storyline and the entertainment value, what does THE BIGGERNESS have to say about Leatherheads? This story demonstrates what happens when someone puts too much value in image and popularity. We see in Leatherheads what can happen when people will do anything to increase themselves, whether in position or wealth. I am not saying it is wrong to desire a fulfillment of your dreams or to want to better yourself in your chosen vocation. That is ambition. Selfish ambition is what I am referring to...ambition that is only self-serving and self-glorifying. This is what empowers people to walk over others on the way up the phantom "ladder of success." Another powerful theme illustrated in Leatherheads is old vs. new / young vs. old. Life has phases and there will always be new things replacing the old and old giving way to the young. There are some things that should never be replaced. Postmodern America wants to replace God with self and desires to rewrite (or rid of completely) the Bible to fit into this framework.The urgency and need for foundation in the Word of God is more evident now than for any other time in history. The media plays an important role in Leatherheads and a powerful statement made in the movie is "We Love Our Heroes." Pick up a newspaper or watch the news today and you will see that we do love our heroes. The world is constantly looking for a hero and it seeks anyone to try to put into that role. Right now it is the Obamas; in a couple of years (if it takes that long) they will will be insufficient to fill the hero void. The problem is the heroes we are loving are not worthy of worship. Only Jesus the living Christ is worthy of worship. In the past few days, I have become increasingly annoyed at the media's coverage and questioning of whether or not Michelle Obama will revive the fashion industry. Who Cares? A real hero is one who will stand up for Truth of the Gospel regardless of the cost to reputation, position or status. If fashion is what we compare ourselves to, we are to be pitied for our shallowness. Philippians 2:6-11 reveals the hero we should be loving:
Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
However, Jesus is not just a hero to love...He is a Savior and Lord.