“I Hate Christian Laettner” Review

This 30 for 30 or ESPN film, whichever name you prefer, looks at one of the most hated college athletes in the history of the game. It explores many different reasons why the hate for Christian Laettner was so serious. After all, he was just a kid, what did he ever really do to deserve the hate? The film talks to many different people including Christian Laettner himself, his family, Coach K, Coach K’s wife, past teammates, the Fab Five, opponents of his, and many different authors, reporters, etc who wrote books and stories about their hate. Many different perspectives were offered during this film which is what I’ve always loved most about documentaries- especially sports documentaries.

The first reason that they look at is that Laettner was perceived as a rich kid because he attended Duke University and a prep school before that. In reality, Laettner came from a middle class family. His mom was a teacher and his dad was a journalist. He couldn’t afford prep school but they offered a type of work study where he would work these dirty type jobs extremely early in the morning in exchange for his tuition. He only went to Duke because Coach K offered him a full scholarship. This alone gave me personally some new respect for the guy. He didn’t have anything handed to him, he worked for everything he had which is something worthy of respect.

Another reason why people hate Laettner is that he’s a white kid. Some people thought he might be racist or view black people differently since the only black guys on his basketball team were called “Uncle Tom” and things of that sort. Laettner was actually extremely tolerant of other races, maybe even was more against white people than black. His teammates bragged on how impressed they were with his style and his knowledge of hip-hop.

The third reason explored was that he was a bully who preyed on the weak. I actually laughed out loud because they used Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift as the image for a bully. Yes, Laettner was an animal on the court and he was certainly a big trash talker. The way he carried himself and seemed to get away with so much stuff other players wouldn’t get away with was extremely disheartening and irritating. But he also seemed like a good teammate and actually a cool guy off the court. He just knew how to get under people’s skin.

After watching this documentary, I learned a lot about the background of this guy that got such a terrible reputation over the years. I think it’s sad how much people disliked him and how far some people took it. Like it’s actually ridiculous that his 12-year-old sister was called a whore just for being his sister. Like what did she ever do to deserve that? Sometimes the hatred people have isn’t rational and is fairly upsetting. Ultimately, people hated how good he was and I love that the documentary explored that. But I think it wasn’t just one sided, it also showed the reasons behind why people hate him by talking to the sources directly. Overall, it’s one of my favorite ESPN films.

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Top Sports Documentaries

These are some of my favorite sports documentaries of all time. I’ve tried to include many different sports in this list but I’m sure I left some out so let me know if I forgot any of your favorites!

1. Undefeated

This documentary won an Oscar for Best Documentary and it’s not hard to see why. It follows an inner city high school in Memphis that’s run by a volunteer coach. The stories of these individual players is so touching and interesting. It just gives audiences a lot of insight into the struggles that these kids have to deal with. This is a documentary that’s pretty impossible not to cry over.

2. Baseball

One of the best documentaries about baseball and an extremely long one at that. It’s a very in depth look at the history of baseball. It makes sure to stick as close to the dates and important decades in the sport as possible. As a whole, it’s just a fun documentary that teaches you a lot about all of the players and dates that are significant for baseball.

3. The Endless Summer

A timeless documentary that changed the direction of surfing documentaries right around. It takes a unique first person point of view that had a way of making audiences feel that they were actually apart of the story. Bruce Brown’s approach to filming and narrating in this feature in general was something that we hadn’t yet seen. He also showed that the theory “less is more” can be a relevant one when used by the right filmmaker.

4. Hoop Dreams

This is a long one but it’s far from boring, the length is perfect for you to get involved in the lives of these two high school basketball players who have dreams of playing in the NBA. That plot sounds like a simple one, what basketball player doesn’t have that dream? But as you take a closer look, you realize the racial and economic challenges that these two African American boys have to deal with. It becomes a lot more about their lives outside of the sport and that’s what keeps you at the edge of your seat the entire time.

5. 30 for 30: Fab Five

ESPN 30 for 30 films never disappoint. They always manage to tell such fascinating stories from various points of view. This one in particular revealed a lot about how these underprivileged boys were given the opportunity to play basketball at Michigan. At the time, they came off as being “cocky” and “punks” but this gives us more insight as four of the boys (Chris Webber didn’t want to be apart of it) were interviewed as well as other coaches and reporters around during this time. I gained a lot of respect for them after watching this and seeing how much they truly changed culture and what people thought about them.

6. 30 for 30: Into The Wind

30 for 30 isn’t typically known for being so emotional and heartbreaking. Most of the time, just the facts are being presented and it isn’t exactly tear jerking. However, this story about Terry Fox is bound to make even the hardest of hearts shed a few tears. Canadian Terry Fox was a big runner when his leg was amputated at the age of 19 because of cancer. In 1980, he ends up running across Canada on one leg. His relentless work ethic and pure love for running is so heartwarming and inspiring.

7. We Could Be King

An inspiring look at two Philadelphia rival schools being forced to combine their football programs due to budget cuts. The horrors that these kids go through is really emotional. One of the boys Dontae is a big guy who is extremely sensitive and it breaks your heart when the boy struggles with reading out loud. The coach himself is also an inspiration, he began helping these boys after his close friend was murdered. He wanted to help these boys get away from the realities of their lives and focus on the sport they all love.

8. The Battered Bastards Of Baseball

The Portland Mavericks were an independent team owned by Bing Russell, father of actor Kurt Russell who also did some acting himself. The movie is hilarious but also touching to see these underdogs rise to the top in such hilarious fashion. The people interviewed including Kurt Russell, a batboy, players, coaches, Kurt’s mom, and many more give us new dimensions to the story.

 

Advice For The Nonathletic Type

Here is one question that I used to ask myself when I realized that sports wasn’t exactly my thing. What am I supposed to do with my time if I’m not going to play sports? Playing sports gives you the chance to interact with many different types of people and you get the chance to form lifelong friendships. However, there are definitely alternatives for those of you that know that sports just aren’t your thing.

For me, I turned to theatre. Obviously, different things appeal to different people. This was something that I started up in the third grade because many of my friends were taking drama class at my school. So I would also have the chance to interact and spend more time with my friends, I also took the class. Theatre soon became something of a passion to me and so I started taking part in productions in my community. Doing this allowed me to meet friends from all over my community that didn’t attend my school. Out of that experience, I ended up making friends that I still have today.

Sometimes, these types of activities can seem a lot like high school, you have your own little cliques that consist of those that are the stars and those that aren’t the stars. However, it surprised me that there are many people, especially in theatre (I can’t speak on behalf of other activities since I never took part in them) that don’t care about how great they are, they just hangout with everyone regardless of what part you’re playing. I’ve learned to love those moments that happened in theatre because it gave you that indescribable feeling that you truly belonged.

My point is, everyone has a place where they belong. For some of us, we are comfortable while playing sports. For the nonathletic types like myself, we have to find a different place, which isn’t too hard to discover. Sometimes you just have to look around for a little bit until you find it.

Best Sports To Play With Others

Playing outside with your friends is a lot of what my childhood consisted of. It can be so much fun to still relive that fun every now and then and play those games with your friends! I’m a firm believer that you’re never too old for any of these outdoor games.

1. Kickball

Playing kickball outside was one of my favorite things in elementary school. I was by far the least athletic but it’s still fun to play a game with all your closest friends.

2. Four Square

This game isn’t physical so it was perfect for my awkward and non athletic self. It was such a fun game to play while on the playground in elementary school and middle school. What I love about four square is that you’re never too old to play it.

3. Jumping rope

This isn’t a sport but it’s definitely a workout. This was one of my favorite activities on the playground because it was one of the only ones I was actually good at. Jumping rope is also the most fun when you do it with other people. Double dutch is by far more challenging but it’s also just a fun way to get involved with your friends and do something productive.

4. Basketball

Playing pickup games of basketball with your friends is one of the best bonding activities in my book. I think this one is so great because you never grow out of it. There are guys that are still forty years old and they play pickup games with their buddies as a way to get some exercise and also some interaction with your best friends. It’s fun because there’s not a bunch of rules, you just play the game you love with little interruptions.

5. Ultimate Frisbee

Some people might automatically think this is lame but it’s also an active sport that involves lots of movement. I think it’s a fun use of your time. Plus you do have to be at least a little bit coordinated and athletic. But if you’re not, that’s not a big deal. The game was meant for all people and this is one that I personally think is one that everyone should play once or twice every once in awhile with their friends.

Rookie Playlists Over Everything

It’s safe to say that I’m running short on inspiration. I can’t think of much to think about which is really frustrating because I want to post everyday, but I also don’t want to post anything that I don’t really care about. So this is where I’m currently at. I’ve decided that the best solution to this problem is to shout out one thing in particular that has managed to inspire me.

As most of you should know by now, I’m a big fan of Rookie Mag. I’ve been introduced to so many new bands and artists because of them. It’s also safe to say that every Friday, the online magazine releases a playlist that is always worth the listen. They manage to mix a variety of different genres as they capture a playlist that centers around a particular theme. It’s truly inspiring to me and I just want to bring it to everyone’s attention in case you haven’t heard of it!

While I’m at it, I might as well do my best to point you towards some of the best playlists on the website. This most recent playlist is all garage rock songs that are all about appreciating who you are. Everyone needs to hear a playlist like this. It’s already become my go to.

This playlist holds nothing back and brings on the feels with artists like Fiona Apple, FKA Twigs, Kate Bush, and Nicki Minaj. Need I say more?

As the description says, “Listen to this mix when you’re looking for a place to go and nowhere seems to fit.”

Rookie’s Hanging With playlists are always the best but the one about Rayanne Graff and Angela Chase remains as my favorite.

I think I’ve included enough playlists to get you on the ground with what Rookie is all about! While you’re listening to the mixes, you might as well look around the website as well. You may find yourself getting sucked in to this world and beautiful music just like I did.

Turn Up The Albums

I’m going to make a complete playlist sometime soon but here’s some of my favorite albums to just turn up all the way and dance around to. You can listen while driving around with your friends or just listening by yourself! Whatever you choose to do, these are the albums you should do it to.

Charli XCX- Sucker

This album is best listened to while taking a road trip with your best friends or dancing around your room with your friends. It’s best to listen to this while surrounded by people you care about because it’s just so much more fun that way. “Break The Rules” is the fun and danceable skipping class anthem you can’t help but love. Charli XCX just puts out hit after hit and there’s not a skippable song on this album!

Ariana Grande- My Everything

This album put out by former Broadway star and vocal powerhouse Ariana Grande doesn’t disappoint. Not all of these songs are upbeat, some are gorgeous ballads that really showcase her voice. The sound here reminds us of a throwback to the 90’s. She has a vintage style to her but it never gets old. The highlight songs are definitely “Problem” and “Bang Bang.” These are also the biggest and most pop sounding songs but it can be fun to just let all your problems go and dance to pop music.

One Direction- Midnight Memories

I know, I know you guys probably think I’ve lost my mind by putting this on the list. However, I can’t resist these five British (And one Irish) boys. This isn’t there most recent album, Four is but I prefer Midnight Memories. Largely due to the fact that this album is filled with songs that you can just sing to the top of your lungs. Four doesn’t really have any of those type of songs. The title track of Midnight Memories is a fun song to listen with at a sleepover with your best friend while you just talk and reflect on all the good times. “Happily” and “Best Song Ever” are two more songs that I can’t help but love. As is “Little Black Dress” and “Diana.” I’m also a big fan of the song “Alive,” which is on the deluxe edition of the album. Whether just the name of the band makes you cringe or swoon, this is a great album to jam to.

Haim- Days Are Gone

Talk about sister power, these three sisters are the coolest. They are frequently compared to the ’70s classic rock band Fleetwood Mac. However, I think they’ve created their own sound for this new generation. Every song is filled with awesome catchy lyrics and the music is just unbelievably amazing. It’s pretty much impossible not to be charmed by the song “The Wire,” or for that matter, any song by the trio. The album is stacked with track after track of songs that you’re bound to love and share with others.

Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend is a small town indie band that reached an unpredictable amount of success. Lead singer Ezra Koenig and company has a unique sound that sets them apart. “Ya Hey” is definitely one of my favorite tracks off of the album, but “Diane Young” is at a close second. Part of the bands charm is that they don’t release ballad after ballad, instead they have lots of songs with funky and cool beats. How can you not love them?

 

Spring Break Update!

Here is a quick update involving Spring break. I’ve talked about this break endlessly throughout the month so far. Now it is actually time for the break. At least it is for me, I’m not sure if that’s earlier than everyone else or not. The break is a whole week off school. The question now that’s left to answer is: What are you going to do all break? Here are some fairly general ideas of what to do. This is just my first list, I’ll follow up with more specific lists according to what you should read/listen to/watch throughout the week.

  • Sleep in

This is the most obvious yet one of the most important of all. It’s also the one I look forward to the most.

  • Hangout with people you don’t normally

Do your best to interact with people you normally aren’t able to during the school year. Take advantage of the time you have to do what you want with some old and important friends.

  • Spring cleaning

This sounds really boring and not a great way to spend your time off. However, it can be nice to be productive. Getting things done can feel pretty good.

  • Organizing stuff

This goes hand in hand with cleaning. The difference is this one is more moving stuff around instead of just cleaning things up around your house. Providing some organization and moving around your furniture is a good idea to prepare for the upcoming season.

  • Get out of the house at least once a day

Staying inside your house all day is a waste of your break. You need to take advantage of being able to get out and not being stuck in classrooms for the majority of your day. Even if the weather turns out to be too cold, at least go to a movie or the mall. Go with relatives if you have to, just get out there and enjoy being able to do whatever you want for the week. You won’t regret it.