Hoosiers is the first sports movie I remember loving.

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about a small town high school boys basketball team in Indiana that won the state championship in 1954. Wikipedia claims it is loosely based on a true story, for what it’s worth. It was released in 1986 and I must have first seen it around then. But that’s not when I was moved to tears watching it.

1992 was my first trip to China (you can read about four lessons I learned that summer  written last year in honor of ‘our’ 20th anniversary). I was part of a teaching summer program that brought Chinese junior and senior middle school teachers together for six weeks of intensive oral English in the morning, methodology in the afternoon, and many evenings filled with activities. Friday nights were reserved for American movies.

A. very. big. deal. at. that. time.

Darkness came, the VCR was plugged in, and several hundred of us sat on uncomfortable folding chairs until the movie started and we were transported as only a good story can and then all was forgotten (or at least mostly forgotten, did I mention the heat?).

Sitting under a host of ceiling fans in the large auditorium it was impossible to cool down enough to avoid sweating. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter I say. Why? Because there was basketball and teams and wins and loses and nail biting and hard work and beautiful scenery and room for the underdog.

And I cried because I was in China loving America in a way that surprised me. I’ve always loved America (and I hope you’ve always loved your home country). It’s not perfect, but it’s mine. That summer I fell in love with China so hard it hurt and I’ve never quite recovered.

But Hoosiers, Hoosiers will always be special because it allowed me the freedom to love two places without choosing. You know me and the messy middle! Maybe it started to be articulated there, in that dark room, with the whirl of ceiling fans, surrounded by a culture and students I was falling for hard, watching a slice of America where enough conflicting pieces came together and I decided to hold all of them in tension.

I love you America and basketball and watermelon in China and ceiling fans (though, truth be told, I love AC more, thank you Connie Cafe‘ the only place in the entire city with AC) and China and  I don’t have to choose. Loving one didn’t mean I was turning my back on the other.

Now, why 42 reasons I love sports movies? Because I went with my sister and bro-in-law to see 42 about Jackie Robinson and during the movie whispered to my sister, “I LOVE sports movies!” and it flashed me back to that sticky magical moment in China.

Next week I’ll share a bit about WHY I love sports movies and 10 sports movies I like. I’ve come a long way, but my love affair started on a hot summer night in a land that also loves sports.

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What’s your favorite genre of movie? What helped you to see your country through fresh eyes?

Leave A Comment

  1. nancy July 12, 2013 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Amy, I wonder if loving your own country becomes something you think about when you love people in another. I knew nothing of America or China until just over 20 years ago but I can say I have grown to love the one I was born in but also the other two because people I love were there.

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      Amy July 13, 2013 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      I think it does :) … and like you, I love Scotland and China and the doorway was through people! Love and miss you. A

  2. Rhonda July 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Loved Slapshot ( hockey), The Air Up there(basketball) and Rudy (football). Love my new home country but I really miss hockey and football games. However, basketball is really big over here which gives me a greater appreciate for it considering it was invented by a Canadian. This has helped me appreciate the contributions my country has made to the world. :)

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      Amy July 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      James Nasmith was Canadian?! Wow, you learn something new every day. Thanks Rhonda for adding to my body of knowledge :)

      • Rhonda July 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

        My pleasure! yes he was. He was teaching in the States when the Dean told him to create something for the boys to do during the winter indoors. He taught at an all boys university/college and that winter was pretty cold for anything. outdoors.

  3. Erika July 26, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

    You always seem to find a way to say exactly how I feel! Thank you for writing and sharing; I appreciate you and your perspective on life!

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      Amy July 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Oh Erika, the feeling is mutual!!

  4. […] now that you’ve got me going — last summer the movie 42 sparked a three part series: How sports movies helped me love America, Four reasons sports movies move me, and my 15 favorite sports […]

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