As a former cross country runner, the story of McFarland intrigued me. While not every sport is perfect, nor will every athlete possess special memories, yet cross country is like a good book you can’t put down. Eager to find out the conclusion, the message of the movie McFarland USA is a story book ending vanishing from America, a species on the verge of extinction.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it, 1 Corinthians 9:24.
For those foreign to the term Cross Country, family is at the very essence of this sport. Perhaps, long bus rides to attend Saturday invitationals is forced upon participants initially. However, after the training is over, the stop watch reset and pain fades away, strangers share a common bond of sweat and tears. Regardless of the final outcome, the journey to improve far surpasses wins and losses. In the end, treasured memories exist, as vulnerable hearts pour out their souls to teammates, welcoming people into their lives they never dreamed of or imagined.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31
The most important message of McFarland USA is choosing community over a career. When success at a small school leads to a dream job, most follow the money, looking for an easy excuse to leave. Yet, Coach Jim White’s legacy, played by Kevin Cosner, was built as the lives of his runners began to be transformed. While his resume did include victories, he brought hope to hopeless Latinos. Therefore, the next time you think you’re on the verge of striking it rich, make sure you don’t run anyone over on your way out of town. Although wealth may feed your family, becoming a part of a community enriches your soul.
by Jay Mankus