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  • In 1991, Paramount Studios released, in my opinion, one of the best sports films of all times. It wasn't about a group of underdogs who overcame all obstacles to become world renown or even local heroes. But it was about a lot of learning and a whole lot of pain.

    In a nutshell, Texas State University has to rebuild their football team after a scandal involving alumni money and grade tampering. The assistant coach, desperate to find a quarterback with potential, locates a 34 year old rancher who was once in line for a scholarship, but had to drop out to help on the family ranch when his father passed away. He talks the man into returning to make an attempt at a degree and lead the TSU Armadillos on the field. The new team, recruited from the ranks of the school, is a mixture of wannabe's and never were's who fumble their way through the season with one tie, and no wins.

    After losing their first game, the Dean of the University arranges a scrimmage with another State Institution to help the players develop their conditioning. Unknown to the coach, the State Institution is the local prison, and the inmates are the football players.

    Surprisingly, the prisoners seem almost cordial as they enter the practice area. Their captain, pictured above, greets the college players with a smile, and says "Gentlemen, this is your field, so please, take the ball."

    The Dean, who is hiding behind a fence, is laughing almost uncontrollably as the college team is thrashed on the field by the inmates, who are quickly herded back into their bus. As they are leaving, one of the players complains he isn't feeling well. "I think I swallowed a finger."

    Apparently the Coach, who is aware the Dean is attempting to have football banned from the college, never read The Art Of War. "Never accept anything from an enemy."

    By the end of the film, the Armadillos do manage to win one game, the most important game of the season against the State Champions, and they have even added a female kicker to the team. The film is hilarious, and the story is extremely well written.

    So what has all this to do with the title? Well, I'm sort of wondering about that myself.

    Oh, okay, you got me. The point of the story is just that movies do not have to be overly violent to entertain. Any film about football is going to be rough. American Football is a rough sport, a sport that demands physical contact and aggressive behavior. Necessary Roughness is a great film with excellent actors, and it entertains without once shooting anyone. Nobody dies. Nothing explodes. No cars careen out of control. And when I was in the theater, I never heard a single person ask for their money back.

    Granted, war films are going to be grittier and in a war, people die. The opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan were so graphic that several reports surfaced of veterans having flashbacks of war experiences when they saw the film. An unexpected result? Probably, but were those scenes necessary to the film?

    The violence in Aurora, Colorado recently has led a lot of people to question the laws regarding firearms and concealed carry, much to the concern of the National Rifle Association and 2nd Amendment advocates like myself everywhere. It seems like Geoffrey Dutton believes it might even be a plot to get more politicos on board with the UN resolution to ban handguns world wide. But what caused the young man to become so callous and so disconnected from society that he felt the only way he could gain any recognition was to stage an assault on a theater full of helpless individuals? Somehow, I just don't believe his ownership of firearms had much to do with it.

    Oh, there also seems to be a lot of speculation about how an unemployed grad student managed to secure so much weaponry and body armor. I've heard conservative estimates from a minimum of $10,000.00 to as much as $20,000.00 worth of firearms and equipment. That's kind of like the estimated street value of a kilo of heroin. Depends on the street and who is selling and who is buying.

    I'm not going to speculate as to how the shooter got his guns. I'm not even going to speculate how much they cost. Not because I can't, but because it doesn't address the issue.

    We glorify violence in this society, and especially in the film industry internationally. At one time, the Joker was a criminal with dreams of ruling the underground empire of Gotham City. Now, he's a sociopath intent on destroying the world. The more sophisticated our ability to create graphic violence in film becomes, the more violence we add to the films.

    It's only one man's opinion, but if we want to know why the shooting occurred, I doubt seriously if re-examining laws on firearms will add much to the picture.

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