Term Paper: Sports Documentary Murderball

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Sports Documentary "Murderball"

Murderball - More than a Sports Documentary About Disabilities

There are documentaries about war, about politics, about healthcare, history, crime and more. And then there are sports documentaries that rarely get much attention because they are usually about one particular team's winning season. "How the Yankees won the World Series" or something of that sort. But the sports documentary "Murderball" is very different and highly compelling - and an argument can be made that it is one of the best sports documentaries in recent years. That is partly because of the excellence of the direction, and partly because it transcends "sports" and goes into the human drama that always takes place when serious disabilities are part of the story.

Frankly, this documentary - which has some crude language and violence - takes the viewer behind the scenes and deep into the lives of the players in a way that is personal, painful and brutally honest. "Murderball," in fact, is far more than a story about men in wheelchairs competing for pride and glory on basketball courts. it's much more than the documentary about wheelchair rugby and the rough and tumble of competition when highly trained, high-energy athletes roar around in wheelchairs slamming into one another and tossing rugby balls. And it's way more than another sports movie, or documentary with a sports theme and sports heroes.

This is a film, according to well-respected movie critic Roger Ebert that uses sport "as a way to see into lives, hopes and fears." These men have had plenty of fears, like anyone who wakes up in a hospital bed and has the doctor tell them they will never walk again.

But why get involved in a roughneck sport like wheelchair rugby? Just to prove you can still fight back even though you're a paraplegic? The way these men play the game shows the moviegoer that those questions don't matter. Guys who enjoy sport do so for their own personal reasons, and in this case, part of the reason is simply because okay, I had a tough injury that put me in a wheelchair, but no injury will ever keep me from being a competitor and from having fun.

There are lessons to be learned in every good documentary, and this documentary is no exception because it is considered a great documentary. The directors (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro) take viewers well past how to play a game or what kind of intensity is necessary. The lessons shared by the stories within the story have to do with drinking to excess, and also driving while intoxicated. The lessons have to do with making smart choices. Indeed, part of the value of watching this film is learning the backgrounds of some of the players on the court, some of whom made poor decisions that led them to the life in a wheelchair. The story of Mark Zupan is poignant and dramatic. Zupan is considered among the top wheelchair rugby players in the world. He was once a normal young man at the age of 18. But one night he fell asleep in the back of a pickup truck and his friend took off in the truck without knowing that Mark Zupan was passed out in the truck's bed. When his friend (Christopher Igoe) drove the truck away, he was apparently under the influence of alcohol and lost control. The truck flipped, crashed, and Zupan was thrown a long way from the road, into a canal.

Zupan was not found for 13 hours. He was seriously injured and indeed lucky to be alive. Now, the documentary revealed, he and Igoe are good friends again. The documentary interviewer asked Zupan (after the film had been screened at a film festival) if he could, would he go back in time to that night and do something differently? It got very quiet before Zupan answered the question. Would he change things? "No, I don't think so," he replied. And bear in mind this is a man who was on a winning team, competing for a world championship in wheelchair rugby. He was part of a team of very close-knit players who loved each other and rooted for each other in the truest form of sportsmanship there is.

My injury has led me to opportunities and experiences and friendships I would never had had before," he answered. "And it has taught me about myself. In some ways,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Sports Documentary Murderball.  (2008, April 28).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sports-documentary-murderball/2303773

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"Sports Documentary Murderball."  28 April 2008.  Web.  17 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sports-documentary-murderball/2303773>.

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"Sports Documentary Murderball."  Essaytown.com.  April 28, 2008.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sports-documentary-murderball/2303773.