Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We Need A Bigger Boat

TigerBlog spent six summers at sleepaway camp, the first five at Camp Toledo and then, after a year off, the last one at Camp Echo.

He can still see the two camps in his mind, with their idyllic locations in the Catskills and their Wonder Years-like coming-of-age charm that saw pre-teens with their first serious crushes (in TB's case, with a Long Island girl a year older than he named Randee who apparently went on to Cornell and whom TB lost track of long before high school ended).

TB remembers much about his summer at Camp Echo, including the fact that the same movie was playing at the Pond Road theater when he left and when he returned. Back then, there was only one movie in the theater, as opposed to 12 or 15 or whatever there are now.

The movie that played all summer and probably for much longer was "Jaws," which according to "This Day In History" opened on this day in 1975.

TigerBlog is going to assume that everyone has seen "Jaws." If you're not old enough to have been around when the movie came out, then you really can't fully appreciate its impact on American culture of the time.

Shark teeth became a big seller. People were afraid to go into the ocean. The "land shark" skit on "Saturday Night Live" became a staple.

Everybody - everybody - saw the movie, which at the time became the highest-grossing movie ever.

TB has seen "Jaws" a billion or so times since the first time he saw it, in the Pond Road theater.

As an aside, the theater no longer exists, though several of the stores in the shopping center - including Attilio's Pizza (get the mussels) and Fred and Murray's Kosher Deli (get anything, it's all great) - remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, back at "Jaws," TB's favorite scene - by far - is the one where Quint (Robert Shaw), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) are drinking on Quint's boat, singing and telling stories and then Quint tells the story of his time on the USS Indianapolis. That's one of the great scenes in any movie TB has ever seen.

He also likes the scenes on land where Hooper is interacting with the locals, especially the mayor. And when Quint runs his fingers down the blackboard.

As for the parts where they chase the shark on the water, the best moment is when Brody is throwing the stuff in the ocean and the shark appears and he says "I think we need a bigger boat."

TB's point is that what makes the movie great is the interaction between the main characters, the drama of how they're going to get everyone understand that it's not business as usual and then how they're going to catch the shark and the suspense of what happens on the water, heightened by the iconic music that plays when the the audience realizes the shark is there but the people on screen don't.

It's not the gore, of which there is plenty in the movie.

And there's a lesson in there.

The Ivy League announced yesterday that it is partnering with the Big 10 conference to do considerable research on the effect of head injuries in sports, especially focusing on concussions.

This is obviously the biggest issue in football now, on every level, from the NFL through college and down to high school and youth leagues.

It's a situation unlike anything that TB can ever remember in sports.

Football is the biggest sport in America, and it's in danger of disappearing if it doesn't do something radically different.

The Ivy League can have all of the studies it wants about concussions. The reality is that preventing them in football means completely overhauling the game.

The rules have to be changed to eliminate any contact with the head, and it mostly has to start with how defense is played.

The problem is that this is where the violence in the sport comes from, and there is a general feeling that the violence draws in the fans, who draw the sponsors and TV ratings and ticket sales and all, leading to billions and billions of dollars for NFL teams and so on.

There is the side issue that the violence is glorified on television and in video games and the other side issue that the younger kids who play the sport imitate what they see on television.

It's not just the fact that players are getting concussions. It's that former players are killing themselves.

It's not something that needs to be tweaked. It needs to be overhauled.

The Ivy League and Big 10 are great partners. Despite the differences in their athletic approaches, both conferences are made up of schools that are committed to research.

If any two conferences were going to make headway on this issue, it'd be these two.

But the main problem is that their research is going to have plenty of case studies until the rules are overhauled.

The game doesn't have to be about violence.

"Jaws" isn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to quibble with your excellent recap of the movie but the iconic line from police chief Brody is, "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Interestingly, both of your favorite bits were improvised. Roy Scheider's "bigger boat" line was an ad hoc addition to the script and Robert Shaw's monologue about the USS Indianapolis was mostly his own creation.