Remember the Titans as Rhetoric (Fastforward to :45)

I’m sure many of us have seen this movie. I think this particular scene is a wonderful example of public address. Coach Boone sets up the exigence very clearly: “If we don’t come together, we too will be destroyed.” He addresses his interracial football team by bringing them to the battlefield of Gettysburg- a tactic that is extremely effective as it is tied to the main point of the speech. The men who fought for freedom on that field years ago were friends, brothers, fathers, and sons who killed each other- do not be like them and destroy one another over the issue of race, you do not have to be best friend, but respect one another. He uses this metaphor to drum up a strong sense of ethos and pathos (“50,000 men died right here, fighting the same fight that we’re still fighting amongst ourselves”) in his football players and coaches (okay, the music may help out a bit too). He then calls them to action: if we overcome the racial divide and social expectations, we willbe able to be successful (not only as a football team) and “play this game like men.” The use of the “we” is also especially effective. It’s absolutely a fitting tactic as he is addressing a football TEAM, one in which he too is a part of. The establishment of this commonality lends him credibility and ethos is also brought about by his position as a head coach with an outstanding record and knowledge of the game. All in all, I believe this to be a great example of rhetoric- who says you can’t learn anything from the movies?

Giana Gregga


3 comments so far

  1. dupublicaddress on

    I definitely agree. This speech is a great example of identifying an exigence and understanding the constraints in a situation and modifying your speech accordingly. The use of the Gettysburg address incorporates both pathos and logos…it stirs up emotion in the team (and the audience) but also gives concrete historical evidence demonstrating the importance of breaking racial barriers and soldiering on. Coach Boone definitely seized this rhetorical opportunity.

    Ali Sehringer

  2. heeryp on

    I further agree with Giana and Ali about this speech’s ability to demonstrate many of the essential tools of success for speaking. I read once that in real life (because this movie was based on true events) that coach Boone gave multiple speeches about coming together as a team and that the director combined elements from each of them to come up with this address. He really did a good job of keeping the theme of togetherness throughout the entire speech. I really like how Coach Boone also uses pauses to emphasize major points especially when he is referring back to his team (“I don’t care if you like each other, you will respect each other. . . and maybe, i don’t know maybe. . . we’ll learn to play this game like men.”). That was a great end to a speech because everyone listening to it was paying hanging on to his every word and he used those pauses to get his point across even more effectively.

    Pat Heery

  3. kbrickman on

    I agree with everyone’s comments so far, this is a great example of the rhetorical situation. As Giana explains, the exigence is clearly notable and Coach Boone takes full advantage of the opportunity to effectively address the team with hopes of successfully initiating a change in the dynamic of the interracial sports team. The exigence, knowledge of the audience he is addressing (he knows the audience personally as their coach and understands the issues of the team from first hand experience), and understanding of the constraints (social and racial divisions and expectations, the location of this inspirational speech taking place in the battlefield of Gettysburg) was presented correctly and very effectively by Coach Boone. Thus, initiating a fitting response – a successful future for the team, built on respect and admiration for each team member.

    Kara Brickman

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