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Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for
Learning Guide to THE ROOKIE

1.  [Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film]. [No suggested Answers.]

2.  Read this paragraph written by the well-regarded movie critic, Roger Ebert:
"'The Rookie' combines two reliable formulas: The Little Team That Goes to State, and the Old-Timer Who Realizes His Youthful Dream. When two genres approach exhaustion, sometimes it works if they prop each other up. Not this time, not when we also get the Dad Who Can't Be Pleased However Hard His Son Tries, and the Wife Who Wants Her Husband to Have His Dream But Has a Family to Raise. The movie is so resolutely cobbled together out of older movies that it even uses a totally unnecessary prologue, just because it seems obligatory. I know, it's based on a true story, but a true story that seems based on old movies...." Roger Ebert.
Name a movie that uses the "little team that goes to state" or the similar "underdog who prevails against all odds" theme. Suggested Response: Examples are: Hoosiers, Breaking Away, Angels in the Outfield, Remember the Titans and Edge of America. The importance of the question is to get students to think about plots in this way.

3.  What is the willing suspension of disbelief? If this story had been fiction, would you have believed it? What does this tell you about good fiction, including movies, novels, short stories and plays? Suggested Response: The "willing suspension of disbelief" is just what it says. When a person reads a novel or watches a film that is fictional, the person will suspend his normal skepticism, at least for a while, to allow the storyteller to spin his tale. It is only if the events in the story are fantastic or so unlikely that they could not have occurred that the viewer or reader will start to question the story. In the case of "The Rookie" it is just too unusual for a major league team to pick up a 35 year old rookie. In addition, the success of the bet with the baseball team that Jim Morris coached is also too unusual to be believed in normal fiction. It tells us that reality is often stranger than fiction.

Social-Emotional Learning

1.  On the day before his tryout with the Devil Rays, was Jim Morris a happy man? What was the state of his life at that time? Suggested Response: As shown in the film and in real life, Morris had become reconciled to the loss of a career in baseball and had rebuilt his life. He was happily married, had children that he loved, and a career that he enjoyed. There were times when he would think wistfully of what might have been, but he had moved on.

2.  Should Morris have been dissatisfied with his life had he thrown a little slower and had he not been picked up by the Devil Rays? Suggested Response: No, he was a good father, a good coach, had a loving marriage etc.

3.  Jim Morris' students helped make a big difference in his life. Can you think of any situations in your experience in which a child helped an adult with a difficult decision or life passage? Suggested Response: It doesn't happen often but it does happen. If the class can't think of an example, give them one from your own experience. If you can't think of an example either, you might use this true story of how a daughter and a grandson stopped their mother/grandmother from smoking. A grandmother had smoked a pack of cigarettes each day for thirty years. Her adult daughter, concerned for her mother's health, objected to her smoking but could never convince her to quit. When the first grandchild in the family began to speak, he was asked to tell his grandmother that he was very sad that she was smoking because it meant that she could die soon. The grandmother stopped smoking. That was twenty-five years ago. She hasn't touched a cigarette since and she is still alive and well today.


4.  Jim Morris was a multifaceted athlete with enormous talent. Up until his tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and his great stroke of luck, did that talent help him in his life? Suggested Answer: No and yes. No, because his attempts to develop his talent in baseball had come to nothing and cost him very important years of his life. While his years as a punter for his college football team may have brought him satisfaction, it brought him little else. Yes, because Morris' talent and interest in sports, when combined with his interest in educating children, allowed him to become a coach and pursue coaching as a profession. It is trite but true that developing a talent usually takes great sacrifice.

Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
(Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner"
and  usesThe Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.)

Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


(Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)

1.  It looked as if Jim Morris would simply embarrass himself at the tryouts. What would he have lost if he had stayed home that day? Suggested Response: His sense of his own integrity and the second chance at his dream. Opportunities can come from fulfilling commitments.


(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)

2.  It's very difficult to throw 12 straight balls over 96 miles per hour with excellent accuracy. After all, Jim Morris didn't think he had any chance of making the team. What would have happened if, when Jim Morris had tried out, he hadn't given his all? What if he had just pitched well and only achieved speeds of 80 miles per hour? Suggested Answer: Morris was the type of person to give everything he had when faced with a major league tryout. This was not because he thought he had a chance and not because he realized that good things most often come when you do your best. He didn't have either of those thoughts in his mind at the time. Morris' willingness to put everything he had into those pitches arose out of his pride, his respect for the game, and his general approach to life.


(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)

3.  Allowing Jim to go to the minor leagues was a great hardship on his family. Why did Jim Morris' wife encourage him to play in the minor leagues? What does that have to do with caring? Suggested Response: Nurturing is the essence of caring and nurturing Jim Morris required that he be allowed to fulfill his dream.

Last updated April 7, 2008.

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