40 Years Laters, These 7 Life Lessons from 'The Bad News Bears' Still Apply!

RealClear Staff


In 1976, "Taxi Driver," "All the President's Men," "Network" and "Rocky" were the important movies in bicentennial America. But no movie spoke the truth quite like "The Bad News Bears," a rag-tag, foul-mouthed bunch coached by a beer-guzzling pool cleaner. 40 years later, its philosophy rules.

1. Everyone Has Potential -- Even if You Don't Immediately See It

Coach Morris Buttermaker: Come on, fellas. Rome wasn't built in a day."

Ogilvie: "Yeah, it took several hundred years."

When washed out baseball player-turned-pool-cleaner Morris Buttermaker (the great Walter Matthau) takes over the Little League Bears, it doesn't seem like he has much to work with. But recognizing the strengths in others is a winning trait. Ogilvie (Alfred Lutter III) knows it all too well, and so does Engelberg (Gary Lee Cavagnaro), the catcher:

2. When You're Talking Contract, You Better Have Leverage

Buttermaker: "Who do you think you are, Catfish Hunter?"

Amanda: "Who's he?"

Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal) wants ballet lessons and imported jeans. She also throws a wicked curveball. She may be only 12, but she's got negotiating chops to envy:

3. You Have to Be Willing to Gamble

Amanda: "I Hear you're a good outfielder. Why don't you play for our team?"

Kelly Leak: "You call what you have a team?"

Talent acquisition is always a tricky thing. The secret: They've got something you want, but make sure you've got something they want:

4. Always Have Your Teammates' Backs -- Even the Benchwarmers

Lupus: "Nobody ever stuck up for me before."

Perennial Bears benchwarmer Timmy Lupus (Quinn Smith) lacks self-confidence, but like the rest of us, all he needs is a little encouragement. He gets it, thanks to Tanner Boyle (Chris Barnes):

5. 'Do the Best You Can'

Buttermaker: "Don't you wanna beat these bastards?"

Sure they do. But sometimes, fiery speeches and angry tirades aren't the best form of motivation. Often, it's best to appeal to your team's better angels.

6. Discover Your Own Power

Buttermaker: "Listen, Lupus, you didn't come into this life just to sit around on a dugout bench, did ya? Now get your ass out there and do the best you can."

Remember Lupus, the guy who whose teammate got into a fight for him? Now look how the flower has blossomed:

7. 'There's Always Next Year'

Tanner Boyle: "Hey Yankees... you can take your apology and your trophy and shove 'em straight up your ass!"

Well, sportsmanship is something the Bears have to work on. But they have their pride, and their stick-to-it-iveness is something we should all strive for!



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