Back in the day, I knew quite a bit about some movies. That was because I often used popular films in my classes to illustrate, in a fun and memorable way, some major learning issue or skill. To give a bigger impact to the message I was trying to convey, I edited out the “chase” and “romance” scenes; that left the focus on what I wanted class participants to get from the movie.

One of those movies I often used was Walt Disney’s “Cool Runnings,” based on the true story of the first Jamaican Olympic bobsled team. Released in 1994, it was a hilarious comedy, portraying how a Jamaican track sprinter had been disqualified for the Olympics in that sport, but really wanted to compete. A sprinter for the Air Force, he was inspired by pushcart racers, and came up with the idea of bobsled racing. He convinced three others from the Air Force to join him in forming a team.

That’s quite a feat in tropical Jamaica, where I doubt any of them had even seen snow or ice before; In fact, they knew nothing about bobsledding. But a former bobsled champion, disgraced and turned barfly, was reluctantly recruited to help the fledgling team. In the movie version, the team crashed on the last of three runs, and they carried the sled to the finish line. It was hinted that they had been medal contenders up until the crash.

Either way, it is a great story. What made it good for my use as a teaching tool were the lessons it displayed about how a working team forms, and comes together to become a cohesive group. It demonstrated the need to have a common goal, something towards which all members will put forth their absolute best effort to achieve. When students could identify those factors and who/why some things worked and others didn’t, they had lessons they would remember and could use. They could answer the “what, so what, now what” questions.

As always when adapting a true story to a movie, there were some differences between the film and reality: the real-life team crashed on the final run of four and did not win a medal, actually ending up in last place. Another team loaned them a back-up sled so they could qualify as having finished the race. Either way, both versions identified sled problems.

History has once again repeated itself. In this week’s newspaper, a lead story was about the Jamaican bobsled team, this time the women’s: “Red Stripe comes to the rescue of Jamaican bobsled team” (USA Today, 2/17/2018). One of the coaches had negotiated a contract for the use of a bobsled. However, that coach was moved to another position and was not happy about it, so she left. She said the sled was no longer available because it was a contract between her and the provider. That left the team without a sled, the week before they were to compete in the Olympics.

Red Stripe is a beer “born and brewed on the same island as these athletes, (and) we want to ensure they have what they need to proudly compete,” said the Senior Marketing Manager for Red Stripe, which is a Heineken USA owned company. The team got its sled, in the nick of time.

This is the first year the women have competed, so that is the second way in which it is like the Jamaican bobsled team from the movie that took place in 1988. So not only is it the debut Olympics for the women, but the 25th anniversary of the film and the 30th anniversary for the men.

The warm-hearted worldwide news story this year about the women’s fledgling bobsled team getting the support they needed was a form of recognition and appreciation. The warm-hearted and feel-good story being broadcast in the media worldwide was another form of recognition.

In both the movie and in real life, back in 1988, the team demonstrated another point I was hoping to make, which is the value and importance of recognition. One of those bobsledders from 1988 said afterwards that the spectator applause after their crash caused him to change the way he was thinking about the event: for him it went from tragedy to triumph.

That’s a wonderful feeling to take away, and a great lesson learned.