Thursday, March 3, 2011

Awesome Product: "Gridiron Gang"

Today's Awesome Product is a little bit of a departure for me because it's not something I think you have to go out and buy right now...or ever.  It's a movie, a first for this feature of The Mother Load, but that makes it no less awesome, at least in my mind.  (And you're here because of my mind, right?)

I think Monday had something to do with all of this.  That was the day I learned a certain state senator who will not be named in this post called the degree I'm pursuing a degree to nowhere. Yes, I'm still going on about that. Being a psych major does not necessarily make me adept at getting over just gives me license to tell other people to get over things. This is the way of the world. Get over it. (You see?)

So, still smarting a bit over the uninformed words of the senator about what I want to do in life, I strapped my laptop to my treadmill (yes, I'm still doing that) and watched a movie about what I want to do in life while I worked out.

You want to coach football to teenage criminals and call yourself The Rock?

Well, okay. The movie isn't exactly what I want to do, but it's close.  With 6 years of experience working with kids just like the ones in this movie, kids affected by abuse, gangs, drugs, poverty, and other ills many in society want to pretend don't exist, I'm back in school for one reason: to better help them.

 The distinguished gentleman from Draper, UT, has said I'm earning a degree to nowhere, and you know...maybe he's more right than he realizes.  The kids I aim to help are on a path to nowhere, and maybe I have to head down that path in order to meet them where they are and help them turn around and find the right way.

 "Gridiron Gang" is formulaic and a little schmaltzy at times.  That's okay.  It's also pretty real.  Having worked with teens in various lockdown programs, I can say the movie gets it right, from the battlefield of the streets they come from to the obstacles facing staff to the triumphs that can and do happen every day.

A note of caution: The language in the movie is pretty realistic, so don't go in to the experience expecting a Disney family feature.  Had the director really portrayed how these kids talk when they're angry, the movie wouldn't have made it past the MPAA without an R rating.  So, it's not as bad is it very well could be, but the things the actors in the movie say will likely offend sensitive ears.  See it anyway.

At the end of this year, I will walk across a stage, having earned my degree to nowhere.  With any luck, there will be some honors to nowhere with it too.  Whether or not a certain senator thinks that effort was worthwhile, I will make it worthwhile by making a difference in the lives of kids.

When those kids go on to be productive members of society instead of drains on the state and budget shortfalls that affect the senator's preferred job training programs become a thing of the past, he and I can sit down and work out suitable public apology.