Circle Talk Series Features its First “Circle Film”

On Tuesday, January 8th, members of the Groton community gathered in the Campbell Performing Arts Center to watch “In Search of Greatness,” a sports documentary that explores the role of creativity in the careers of some of the world’s most notable athletes, with primary focus on Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, and Pelé. This showing was part of the Circle Talk series at Groton that provides one all-school lecture per term. In the past, Circle Talk’s have only been guest speakers, but this presentation has expanded the series to include film showings as well.

Assistant Head of School Andy Anderson organized and approved the showing of “In Search of Greatness.” He explained that since the winter term didn’t have a confirmed speaker for the Circle Talk series, he became especially interested in this documentary when the idea was pitched to him by a representative for the movie, Madison Horton. Mr. Anderson then watched a preview of the film with faculty members John Conner, Kathy Leggat, and Megan Harlan. They thought the documentary seemed interesting but were concerned about the lack of female athletes represented in it. Because of this, they were hesitant to show the film. After Mr. Anderson wrote to the producers to express his worries, they acknowledged the problem and stated that the original intent of the film was also to give Serena Williams a main feature. Unfortunately, because she was working on her own documentary and was also pregnant at the time, plans to interview her fell through.

Still, Mr. Anderson was bothered that the film “seemed unbalanced,” adding that other faculty members also wished it was “more gender balanced.” “There are so many great female athletes,” Mr. Anderson said, and then proceeded to note women’s accomplishments in basketball, crew, and skiing. But although he wished that the movie included more female athletes, he believed that “it was still worth having” and many faculty agreed that the documentary still “seem[ed] like an interesting film that maybe people would like to see.” Even Ms. Horton, the movie representative Mr. Anderson was in contact with and a former Division 1 athlete, said she found value in the movie when she watched it, even though it lacked female representation.

On a faculty and student survey with 80 respondents, 68.75% rated the film above a 5 on a scale from 1 to 10, and the average rating was a 6.5. One survey response said that it was, “interesting to hear about how creativity is essential even in sports, which I found surprising, and that regulating kids’ sports activities can actually be detrimental.” Other students pointed out the lack of female representation in the film, and some questioned why the film was shown to the whole school rather than individual athletic teams. One respondent said, “It was a good movie but seemed more geared towards parents on how to raise children than it was geared towards us.” According to Mr. Anderson, this documentary is applicable to all Groton students since each student is required to play sports during their careers here. “I understand if people say it shouldn’t have been required, but we thought nobody had much work and this would be an interesting way to spend an hour and fifteen minutes… it seemed to me worth trying,” he added.

According to Mr. Anderson, “if students/faculty think it’s a good idea,” and “if there’s enthusiasm about the idea,” having another Circle Film instead of a speaker for the Circle Talk series could definitely be a future option. But for now, we can look forward to welcoming our next speaker, Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan, onto the Circle on February 5th.