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Best Picture Winner 'Green Book' And Why Athletes Should Watch It (No SPOILERS!)

So oscar season is coming up and you know what that means! It is a chance for you to show off just how cultured you have become over the last year.

Now are Oscar movies really the guide for all great movies? In my novice opinion, no, no they are not.

However, if you want to be a cultured, yet mainstream movie-goer, watching the movies nominated for an Oscar just might do it for you. Plus, I’ll do you one better and show you how this particular movie applies to your athletic life.

I just watched Green Book, and I encourage you to grab a friend and go see it. You probably haven’t heard about Green Book as much as, say A Star is Born, but this movie is a masterpiece. Let me give you a quick (non-spoiler) run down.

It is all about famous jazz pianist, Don Shirley, who is African American in the heavily racist 1960s. Nick “Lip” Vallelonga is a smooth-talking Italian in need of a job, so when Don Shirley comes to Nick with a job offer, he can’t refuse.

Don is paying big bucks for this guy to navigate him through the deep South with nothing but his wits and a Green Book. Green Books were something of a motorist guide for African Americans travelling in the South. It basically told you where to go and where to avoid so you can stay out of the trouble from racist cops, “white-only” hotels, etc.

The magic of the film is watching these two completely opposite characters interact and begin to understand each other. Nick is a street-smart kind of guy, who pickpockets for fun, and eats entire pizzas like their sandwiches. Don, on the other hand, is a very eloquent, rich, cultured, cape wearing virtuoso. They’re basically polar opposites, not to mention Nick doesn’t understand the struggle African Americans have to go through. Okay, now that you have the rundown, let me tell you why you should watch it and how it can apply to your life.

So Green Book is most definitely a story about the African American struggle, and it gives a good idea of what the time period was like. However, this movie has a lot of great messages. One theme of the film is loneliness. Don Shirley doesn’t feel like he can fit in anywhere. When he is on stage performing, he is showered in love, but the minute he steps off, there is an immediate sense of loneliness. He is now too rich and disconnected from his own people, but obviously not accepted by the white people he performs for.

A lot of the movie shows how isolated he feels and also how scared he is to reach out. It probably feels that way for a lot of college athletes too. It is a weird middle ground we live in where we feel like we have support, but mostly to take care of our bodies and improve our training. Academics and mental health can oftentimes be ignored fields at many schools. Furthermore, athletics can be such a distraction that we think we are happy when we are out on the field playing. The adrenaline is rushing and the crowd is screaming your name, but the rush is gone when you're back in your regular life. I think Don Shirley’s struggle with identity and loneliness is really relatable in the film, especially for athletes.

It is a weird middle ground we live in where we feel like we have support, but mostly to take care of our bodies & improve our training.

Additionally, Green Book shows a really healthy friendship and a great team that transpires from the relationship. In the movie, Don and Nick are paired together because they have to be. Don needs a driver, Nick needs the money. However as they go through a struggle together, Don and Nick begin to understand each other better. Nick made assumptions on Don just based on his perceived notions of his character. Don dismissed Nick for his odd habits and lack of cultural knowledge. However, we see how each of their weaknesses are actually filled by the other’s strengths and it reminded me a lot of a team. We don’t get to choose who we become teammates with. Most often than not, there will be people you do not think you will like. However, like Don and Nick, you might begin to see why teams can be so necessary. You can lean on each other for support and your faults on the court or off the court are improved by the help and nurturing of a good teammate.

This article may appear a little general in it's use of examples, but I really did not want to give anything away, because the best moments are watching how their friendship blossoms. You can take away a lot from movies that apply to real life. That’s why we spend so much of our time on Netflix and at the theater because movies make you feel a type of way. This movie is no different. It is an uplifting drama-comedy that you’ll find has a lot of parallels for how collegiate athletes may feel.

So grab a couple of teammates and make a trip to the theaters, you’ll bond over the shared experience, and I bet you, you will relate to some of what transpires on screen. 


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