“All’s fair in love and basketball”

Love and Basketball, tells the story of two young African American kids who share a love for basketball. Quincy is the son of a professional basketball player and looks to be just like his father. Monica is the daughter of a mom whose only goal in the life is to please her family. The movie follows the love of not only basketball but the love of each other. It challenges the gender roles we have learned to expect from males and females and illustrates that if you set your heart on something and never give up, you will succeed in following your dream.            As a couple, Monica and Quincy interact with one another through gender specific behaviors. Quincy tends to be the more aggressive person in their relationship and usually making all of the decisions. Such as when they should date and when they should break up. In a packet given to my classmates and I, the author writes, “Men tend to be proactive and verbal in social interaction. Women tend to be more engaging, emotionally involved, and empathic with others”. Quincy has a very traditional gender identity regarding the characteristics of his sex. He is aggressive, direct, and dominant. He demands attention and uses his power to get what he wants. He is viewed as strong and unemotional. Monica, however, shows signs of both genders. Socially, she reacts more as a male would, especially in basketball. She is extremely hostile and argumentative on and off the court. Monica knows what she wants and will not get held back. She plays basketball and refuses to take part in normal female activities. On the other hand, Monica does show feminine characteristics when it comes to her relationship with Quincy. She is emotional and sensitive and always interpreting Quincy’s actions. She only shows this side of her when she is with Quincy.

It is astonishing just how much their parents play in the roles of influencing their gender identities. In Nonverbal Behaviors in Interpretation Relations, a study shows, “Children are very careful observers of their parents, siblings, teachers, and peers. Little boys and girls learn to act like “big” boys and girls by observing others in their environment and modeling their behaviors” (Richmond, 210). Quincy has this passionate will to be exactly like his father. His dad is controlling, demanding, and manly. Everything he does, Quincy aims to mimic. Being a man like his father is his biggest goal in life. With Monica, it is a little different. Monica’s mom influences her gender identity in an opposite way. Monica doesn’t want to be anything like her mother. She goes against the typical female identity because her mother displays all these gender identities. Her mom is a homemaker and takes on the role of being the perfect wife. Monica wants to show her mother that a woman can be anything she wants to be. She wants the power a man has to show her mom that she can follow her dreams.

I think in a sense Monica and Quincy’s gender roles compliment each other, but in a few aspects it complicates things. They are both stubborn and have aggressive personalities. It helps that they have basketball in common by Monica always wanting to do the boy stuff and behaving like a boy would. This gives them something to relate to. But within their relationship, this causes quite a struggle. Two strong, hardheaded personalities are hard to combine. Quincy wants to be in control and have all the power in the relationship. Monica wants to have a say too, she isn’t going to let anyone control her or overpower her. Gender roles in this film are presented through the Social-Learning theory and the Identity-Construction theory. Quincy imitates the Social-Learning theory by wanting to be just like his father. The theory “emphasizes imitation of models and examples they see in society” (Emmers-Sommers). As mentioned above, Quincy mimics his father the best he can. His father is his role model and he will do anything to be just like him. Monica exemplifies a great example of the Identity-Construction theory because she has made a “conscious commitment to a specific image of self” (Emmers-Sommers). She will do whatever it takes to become who she wants to be. Nothing and no one will stop her. She is a basketball player and that isn’t going to change no matter what. She has committed herself to her dream and showing everyone including her mother that a woman can do anything she wants to do.

Three nonverbal categories that dominate Quincy and Monica’s relationship are touch, physical appearance and space and territoriality. Touch is the most significant aspect of their relationship. As children, they were always pushing each other and fighting. But as they got older their touch went from wanting to cause harm, to wanting to show affection. As a couple, they were always touching each other to show desire and to be intimate. Physical appearance dominated their relationship in the early years because it shows that Quincy wasn’t attracted to Monica. He didn’t know he was in love with her until he saw her in a dress at spring dance. She has a tight, white dress on that showed all of her curves. Her hair and makeup were done and she looked like a woman. Up until that moment, Quincy had never really viewed her as a woman, just a friend that he saw as one of the guys. Another nonverbal element in Quincy and Monica’s relationship is space and territoriality. Richmond says, “Personal space is an invisible bubble that surrounds us and expands or contracts depending on personalities, situations, and types of relationships” (138). The level of space changes throughout the movie. At first, Monica and Quincy keep their space and are not quite sure how to react to one another. As a couple, they start spending a lot of time together and there is no longer that awkward space between them. Even as basketball players, you’ll see that they are both used to having their personal space invaded on the court. When they play with one another, they are up on each other and it’s more of a sexual gesture. What once was separate is now joined. Overall, the qualities have positive and negative affects on the relationship. Touch is always going to play a big part in an intimate relationship. Touch is an important aspect in showing affection. They need to be physical to show their love for each other. A negative nonverbal element on their relationship is physical appearance. It shouldn’t have to be about appearance to realize you love someone more than anything. I think Quincy has loved her from day one but didn’t realize it until he saw her looking like a woman. This desire Quincy has for an attractive woman delayed their relationship from starting sooner. I think space and territoriality was a positive element for them. They needed to loosen their personal space to get closer to each other and they did. I think this is why physical touch during their basketball games at night did not bother them. If anything, it made them closer.

Personally, I think both Quincy and Monica are very confident and resilient people. They both view themselves as invincible and good at what they do. Neither one of them allows anything to get in the way of their dreams. However, I do think this can sometimes be a front they put up for the public. Deep down they doubt themselves a little and worry that maybe they aren’t what they dream to be. They would never admit it but they are terrified of failure and losing control of their fate. Quincy’s popularity, and athletic ability affect his interactions with others. He comes off as the big man on campus and can be pretty intimidating. Monica isn’t popular and doesn’t have a lot of friends but her athletic ability gives her the confidence she has. I think Quincy’s perception of self is pretty much right on target for how everyone views him. Monica knows she is good at what she does and so does everyone else but the public doesn’t seem to respect her the way they respect Quincy for his athletic ability. This is mainly because of the way women are viewed. They aren’t supposed to be athletic according to men, and women’s basketball just isn’t as popular as men’s basketball.

After viewing this movie, I learned that never giving up on someone you truly love is something you have to do in order to find happiness. Monica never got over Quincy, she has loved them since they were eleven years old and she never stopped loving him. Even after five years of not talking, she knew she was never going to get over Quincy. She knew she had to give it one more shot. I was able to relate to multiple images and themes in this film. I have experienced being the tomboy who plays all the sports with the boys and not being noticed as a girl. I never got the chance to show them this until we got to high school when I grew into more feminine appearance. They didn’t see me as a woman until they finally saw me, as a woman.

The fact that Monica has to initiate each intimate talk with Quincy about their relationship is consistent with me. I always find myself being the one wanting to define the relationship or figure out where this is going. I want my significant other to know how I am feeling and what I am thinking. I feel like Monica is the same way. She didn’t have the patience to wait around on Quincy to figure out he still loved her; she had to show him he still wants to be with her. Sometimes guys just need a little boost. I’ve never dealt with conflict the way Quincy and Monica do in the movie. They seem to yell at each other and get aggressive and even shove one another. I mainly deal with conflict by voicing my feelings and then avoiding the problem. Most often, Quincy and Monica took their conflicts out on the court.

Monica is consistent with how I behave and handle situations within a relationship. It was surprising just how much I could relate to her. I learned by watching her, that I can sometimes be too aggressive towards my significant other when dealing with defining the relationship. I also came to the realization that I have been in her shoes. I have held myself back from things I love because I am hung up on someone I’m still in love with. I am not sure if waiting five years to realize this is particularly healthy but I have been in that situation where I held myself back for years. I learned that you really have to fight for the one you love to find happiness with them.

If I could give Quincy and Monica advice on how to work on their communication, I would tell them not to wait till its too late. They were lucky in that it wasn’t too late for them to still be together but usually it would have been. If you really love someone, do something about it, tell them, show them, do whatever it takes. You have to be proactive and honest. If Quincy had just told Monica why he was upset with her instead of going out on a date with another girl, things would have turned out so much differently for them.

I really enjoyed watching Love and Basketball and being able to relate to the characters and their feelings. I really felt like I was witnessing first hand what they were feeling. I felt hurt when they felt hurt and it is hard for a movie to capture that with an audience. This is a great movie illustrating gender roles and where we find our identities. Watching a relationship unfold like that and witnessing their struggles and triumphs was enlightening.

Emmers-Sommers, Tara M. “Couple Relationships, Family Relationships.” Communication. 14 Apr. 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2011. <http://www.family.jrank.org/pages291/communication.html&gt;.

Love and Basketball. Dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood. Perf. Omar Epps and Saana Lathan. New Line Cinema, 2000. DVD.

Richmond, V.P., and McCrosky, J.C., and Hickson III, M.L., (2012). Female-Male Nonverbal Communication. In “Nonverbal Behavior Interpretation Relations” (pp.208-231).

Sex and Gender Differences in Nonverbal Communication Packet from Class


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