Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Today is clear with a slight chill to the air just as a reminder that spring can be a variable month in the Memphis\Mississippi locale. Here, we're subject to the whims of the hot humid breath of southern regions like Georgia or cooler, less intimate waves from our northern neighbors. The change can occur at any given moment. Having originally come from the north, I tend to prefer my brisk kindred cousins to my newfound plantation dwelling friends. I’m now back in a more stable frame of mind and, as such, I now have the time and inclination to view my Netflix films on a more regular basis. Last night, I found myself invited to witness a few gripping games of quad-rugby – otherwise known as “Murderball”.
I had read a lot about this documentary on the Internet, however it never played in my location. Not to make light of the folks in my particular location in Mississippi – ok, but just this once. You can forget anything in the realm of “Grizzly Man” or “Murderball” at the local redneck theater complex. How astonishing. I guess that’s what Netflix is for. Anyway, it was an engrossing and ultimately uplifting group of entwined studies of human nature and the will to overcome amazing physical obstacles (unlike “Grizzly Man” – which was also fascinating. But face it, that was a seriously depressing tale of a someone out of touch with reality). “Murderball” is reality staring you in the face and forcing you to see another side of human accomplishment that we sometimes tend to look away from.
For the uninitiated, “Murderball” is full contact rugby played by quadriplegics in wheelchairs that are armored like something out of “The Road Warrior”. But it’s far more than that. It’s a statement of once again gaining control of one’s life after being struck down in the most helpless fashion imaginable. “Murderball” is also about relationships. A father who is a legend in the quad-rugby arena coming to understand his non-athletic son who wishes to play the viola more than participate in sports. The young man who caused the crippling of his best friend and can’t connect to his emotions because they are so deeply buried in guilt. The recent quadriplegic coming to grips with his new disability sitting in his wheelchair while staring at his beloved competition motorcycle on which he had his accident – helmet in his hands – knowing he’ll never ride again. The look in that same man’s eyes when he is allowed to try out an armored quad-rugby chair and feeling, once again, a sense of empowerment.
This is something you don’t see too often in life. It’s like the scene where the U.S. quad-rugby team visits Walter Reed Hospital to speak and mingle with disabled vets from the Iraqi War, showing them their sport. Standing amongst them is an attractive young female soldier in her 20’s. She was looking intently at their demonstration and listening very closely to what they had to say She was also missing an arm and one of her legs. These are images that tend to be kept from the public, at large. See this film.


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