So the last shall be first, and the first last.
Matthew 20:16, KJV
Kevin Costner is one of my favorite actors. He has stared in and directed a number of sports movies that have told the story of stunning triumphs and stellar victories. From Field of Dreams to Bull Durham to For Love of the Game, Costner captures the essence of sports on camera and through film like few others can.
Costner’s latest amazing achievement is McFarland USA, a true story about a transplanted, first year, cross-country coach in a small California town who transforms a tacky team of amateurish athletes into a comely collection of championship contenders. With no means and no money and no modicum of coaching cross-country, Costner’s character, Jim White, manages to convince and convert a contingent of castaways into a compelling crew of contenders.
Costner certainly came across a little known, marvelously phenomenal tale of trial and triumph. It is a telling of the lives of young men who didn’t’ think they had a chance at anything but share cropping and menial living. Yet Coach White coached his chosen, cherry-picked, crew of up and comers and coached across the class and color lines and was blessed to harvest a bumper crop of champions.
I watch sports movies for something to do and McFarland USA came of nowhere and is right up there with the best of ‘em. Don’t tell everybody, but I’m a sucker and a pushover for a rags-to-riches, come from behind, win when no one gives you a chance story. And McFarland USA is another one that will juice you up and fill you up and lift you up to believe when all signs point the other way.
McFarland USA teaches that the last can and indeed shall be first. That’s theological, spiritual speak for this: the underdogs and underachievers and under-believers can come from all the back and end up leading the pack. An underdog is one who is last and least and the slightest and has the slimmest chance at a championship. All underdogs have a disadvantage and are expected to lose. And that is why McFarland USA is such a great movie and is an even greater story.
Just watch it and see.