Playing for Keeps-Review

A former soccer great, George is now broke, without a job and separated from his family.  At the center of all George’s problems is the fact that he never really grew up.  He has never learned to sacrifice or do the right thing, he’s only done the easy thing—and as George found out, Easy Street is a dead-end road. 

George moves to where his ex-wife and son live in an attempt to reconnect and ends up coaching his son’s soccer team.  There’s this great scene where George takes his son, Lewis, to go practice soccer in the park, just the two of them.  When they get there, it starts pouring.  Of course, Lewis is completely disappointed.  It’s a deluge, and now they can’t practice, now their time will be ruined and his dad will take him back home.  But George has a rare moment of genius and says, “This is the best time to play soccer.  If you can pay in this you can play in anything.”  And so they begin to kick the ball. 

That scene really becomes the metaphor for the movie.  George has to learn to apply what he knows about playing soccer to his personal life.  George hadn’t learned to stick it out in the storms.  When it came to relationships, he went where it was dry, convenient and comfortable.    He hadn’t learned that when the rains come, it’s the best time to work on your “game” in your relationships – that if you can stick together in that, you can stick together through anything. 

Stacie, George’s ex, had already learned that.  When he asked her for some parenting advice, she told him:  “Even when it’s hard, even when you want to be anywhere but there.  Even when you think he doesn’t need you…Trust me; he does.”  She knew that the most important time to stay, to “practice”, was when it was hardest, when the storms hit.  It was the same principle George was teaching his son about soccer, it just took George a while to apply it to the rest of his life, especially his relationships.

When George and Lewis went to play soccer that day, they had two different perspectives on the storm.  Lewis saw the difficulties and was discouraged.  George saw the opportunity the storm presented and got excited.  Lewis saw the immediate discomfort; George saw past the short term loss and focused on the long term gain. 

This is a principle we see throughout the Bible.  Perhaps James 1:2-4 says it best, though.  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  You can look at trials with a sense of joy and excited anticipation because you know that they are helping you toward maturity and perfection. 

In the December 10 entry of Jesus Calling where Sarah Young writes as if Jesus is talking to her, it says:  “Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence.  In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face.”  Trials are helpful in any number of ways, but for the Christian, they are especially so.  Not only do they help make us more like Him, but they help us see Him more clearly and trust in Him more fully.  If Jesus is truly our desire, then we of all people ought to rejoice all the more when we see the storms approaching. 


Questions for Discussion:

  • What about you in your life?  How do you respond to the storms?  When you go out to play and find it’s raining, do you get discouraged?  Do you go home?  Do you try to find somewhere that feels more comfortable?  Or do you go ahead and play anyway, knowing that the storms provide a perfect atmosphere for practice? 
  • Are you even able to go a step further and look at the storms with excitement, because you are so desperate to get better, you welcome the chance to practice in such a rich environment?
  • When problems come, how do you see them?  As inconveniences (or worse) or as opportunities?
  • How would it change things if you could see your problems as opportunities?  How would it change things if you responded to them with joy?
  • What is it that you want so bad that you’re willing to weather the storms?  For George it was soccer…then it eventually became his family.  He eventually wanted to have his family bad enough he was willing to sacrifice Easy Street and stick out the storms to get there.  What is it for you?  Is it a relationship?  Is it a skill or accomplishment or position?  Is it something that you want to be, something central to who you are inside? 
  • How do you think being a follower of Christ impacts how you look at trials?  Would it make a difference if you could trust that God really could work out all things for good (even the storms and trials) for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28)?

Review by Stacey Tuttle

Click here to see quotes from the movie.