Sports Movies: The Bad News Bears Revisited

Posted by on March 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

March is Movie Month here at Throwback Attack where we revisit some sports classics, create lists and remind everyone of some of the best – and worst – sports movies.

Has anyone watched The Bad News Bears recently? After all the stories of bad youth coaches, Jerry Sandusky and the like?

It’s amazing that a cute film that was offensively fun when it came out in 1976 just doesn’t seem to work anymore.

You have an alcoholic coach, racist and pugilistic ballplayers and adults committing violence on minors. Apparently the rules were a lot looser in 1976.

A creepy drunk hanging out with kids … nothing to be worried about.

Let’s start with Buttermaker … re-watching the movie there are so many questions just based on his character:

  • How much were they paying him to coach the team? Was it enough to look past the fact that he drives around with a cooler of beer and a bottle of Jim Beam in his car?
  • Speaking of cruising around with a beer … Buttermaker has a beer in his hand for at least the first third of the movie. Even around the adults running the Little League. Did nobody care that he was drinking a Budweiser at 9 a.m. while working with kids? He even walks onto the field, during a game, with a beer in hand. Was his career in the minor leagues too good for people to question this?
  • The Bears all seem to love Buttermaker a little too much early on. They drive around with him, helping him clean pools and mixing him drinks. It’s only when the team starts getting good do they turn on him. Did the outcasts like having another outcast? Did they see him as a role model for their misguided youth?
  • When he shoves Rudy Stein why didn’t anyone report him? He also throws a beer at Amanda’s head. Also, along the same lines, when the Yankees coach smacks his son in the face in the championship game, why doesn’t anyone come onto the field and haul him away?
Did children run wild in the 1970s? Not adolescents like in Dazed and Confused, but 11 and 12-year olds as portrayed in the movie. When Tanner sticks up for Timmy Lupus in front of the snack stand and he gets into a fight with two of the Yankees kids, where were the adults who should break it up? When there is so much as a verbal altercation now, you have three or four adults stepping in.

Parents celebrated with their beer-drinking children after finishing in second place. Doesn’t that seem odd to anyone?

Tanner is one of the better characters in the movie. The pipsqueak who will fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. The starting shortstop who can’t field a ground ball. He seems to hate everyone equally, but would the following line ever fly nowadays: “All we got on this team are a bunch of Jews, spics, niggers, pansies and a booger-eating moron!” Wow.

The movie just seems a bit uncomfortable to watch these days now that we have had youth coaches too similar to Buttermaker. Yet there still holds a lot of truth to it in the championship game when the Yankees coach and Buttermaker both care about winning a lot more than the players do. There is a real sickness in youth sports and that was actually captured well in the final game. Who knew it would turn out so prophetic as the youth scene exploded in later years?

Underrated quote of the movie: “I’m hitting .841 for the Bears. … Harley Davidson … that turn you on?”
– Kelly Leak trying to pick up one of the older women in Amanda’s ballet class. Just an FYI for you baseball stat nerds – to hit .841 Kelly Leak would need to go 37-for-44. Hard to imagine he got up 44 times or that he got out seven times. 

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