Sport in Two Films: Any Given Sunday and Field of Dreams
Sport has been a significant part of society for centuries. In part, sport is a recreational activity, a social activity, and a means of competing. However, sport also holds greater significance for many people. It represents something that goes beyond just competing or just winning and says something about the way people interact and work together to achieve their dreams. At the same time though, the meaning of sport has been lost over the years. Winning has become so important to some that the joy of sport has been lost. For others, sport has become so intertwined with making money that the meaning has eroded. In today's society, the joy and meaning in sport has begun to be lost. Two films that deal with these issues are Any Given Sunday and Field of Dreams. Both films offer a view of sport that attempts to remind the viewer of the meaning inherent in sport, showing the viewer that sport is something scared and suggesting that people need to remember what sport once was and not allow it to erode further. While this overall message is shared by the two films, there are significant differences in the details of the messages provided and in the way they are communicated. This will now be considered in detail by comparing various aspects of the two films. This will show that the two films present slightly different views and present these views in different ways, while sharing an overall message about the meaning inherent in sport and how important it is to hold on to this meaning.
One of the first ways that the two films are similar is that they both tell the story largely via an individual who is involved in the sport, but is not actually playing the sport. In Any Given Sunday, the main character driving the story is Tony D'Amato, the coach of the Miami Sharks. Tony is clearly passionate about the game and his team, yet is not involved in actually playing the sport. In Field of Dreams, the main character is Ray Kinsella. Kinsella's link with baseball is based on his love of the game and the fact that his father once played and encouraged him to play professionally. As a farmer though, Kinsella has no definite link to the sport. The meaning suggested by this feature in both of the films is that sport means something even to those who do not play. This suggests that there is some universal quality about sports that gives it meaning to a range of individuals, whether they are players, coaches, or spectators. This same point is also emphasized in both films, though by very different methods. Most importantly, the different methods link to the different settings in each film.
In Any Given Sunday, the film is set in the environment that focuses on the team's success as part of the National Football League (NFL). In this environment, the spectators have a direct interest in the success of the team, where a win for the team becomes a win for the spectator. This is seen in each of the NFL games, where the crowd makes it apparent that the sport is almost as important to the spectators as it is to the players. This is also emphasized by Christina Pagniacci's and her focus on what the fans wants from the team. Christina also partly offers the fan's perspective because of her focus on how the team overall achieves and how significant this is, regardless of what it means to individual players. This establishes that sport has a significance to individuals that does not require the individual to actually be part of the game. This implies that there is some universal quality about sport that links people together. The setting works in a similar way in Field of Dreams. The setting for the baseball game is Kinsella's farm in Ohio that he converts into a baseball diamond. This setting where a country farm becomes the place where the greats meet to play baseball suggests that sport means as much to average people as it does to professional players. This suggests that there is something universal about sport. This is also emphasized when Kinsella joins in the baseball games with the greats. This scene in the film shows that all people are equal on the sports field, whether professional or not. It is also notable that Kinsella was the one who believed in the game enough to build the baseball diamond. This shows a shared love for sport that links an average farmer with the greats of baseball. This emphasized that there is a universal meaning to sport that links all individuals associated with sport.
Another similar feature in the two films is that they both represent a conflict between the old and the new. In Any Given Sunday, the conflict is represented as one occurring between two characters, Tony D'Amato and Christina Pagniacci. Tony is the long-time coach of the Miami Sharks, who was given the position by Christina's father. Christina is the young new owner of the team, who is more concerned with making money and marketing the team than with the players or the game. One of the major conflicts of the film occurs as Christina and Tony clash over the coaching of the team. Christina considers Tony too old-school, while Tony sees Christina as having no respect or understanding of what the game means. It is also clear that Tony sees the game as having more significance than Christina does. In short, Christina views the team's performance only in a business sense and shows no heart. This represents the new view that is taking the joy and meaning from sport. Tony fights against this, trying to coach the team his way, but finds himself under constant pressure from Christina. A clear point about the difference between old and new is seen when Christina threatens to fire Tony, with Tony noting that he formed an agreement with her father not by contracts but by handshakes. This emphasizes that the new way of looking at the game takes the heart, soul, and trust out of it, and makes it all about business. This conflict between Christina and Tony continues throughout the film, always representing how the new ways are driving out the old. In the end, the film suggests that the old ways are all but finished. This is seen by the ending, where Tony leads the Sharks to victory in the final game, suggesting that the old ways are superior to the new. However, Tony then announces that he is leaving to join a new team the next year. This leaves Christina as the victor over Tony, showing that the new ways are overwhelming the old and making them redundant. This acts as a final warning, reminding people of what is great about the old ways and attempting to inspire people not to let the new ways take over. A similar message is presented in Field of Dreams, though in a different way. Rather than showing a conflict playing out between old and new, the film shows a situation where the new ways have won over, with the main character than trying to recapture the old ways. It is this need to recapture something lost that drives Kinsella's actions. The film shows that his father failed in baseball and wanted Kinsella to go professional. However, this focus on results seems to have turned Kinsella away from the game. Rather than feel the joy of the game, he only feels pressured to achieve success. With this focus, his interest in the games lessens and he gives up playing baseball. However, this does not mean that the game has been lost entirely to him. He still recalls that there is something great about baseball and this is what motivates him to build the baseball diamond. When the baseball diamond is completed and the players come, his love for the sport is recaptured. It is especially important that the players at the match are not current ones, but are the old greats returning for one last game. For Kinsella, this represents the return of the old and the return of this love for the game. In this way, he recaptures something great that had been lost to him. This illustrates that both films have a focus on how the new ways have overtaken the old ways, resulting in the loss of the meaning of sport. The major difference is that Any Given Sunday represents a final battle between old and new, showing how new is winning over old. In contrast, Field of Dreams presents a case where the old has already been lost and shows the joy in recapturing the old. In both cases, it is a warning about how the meaning inherent in sport is being eroded by a focus on succeeding and financial gain. Also in both cases,…