The Mighty Ducks (Disney+): What Does Family Look Like?

By Jacob Sahms

There are so many lessons from sports that apply to life. Lessons about hard work, determination, perseverance. Lessons about how to lose or win with class. Lessons about who you are as an individual. But lessons about community, about teamwork, are always the ones that resonate the most with me. And halfway through Disney+’s Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, the team-oriented lessons remain central.

For those who haven’t heard of the show, or seen an episode or two: Twelve-year-old Evan Morrow gets cut from the Mighty Ducks hockey program, now a national powerhouse and nothing like the once humble, ragtag group from the films. His mother Alex launches an effort to create a new team, ultimately enlisting the unwilling aid of Gordon Bombay, the ex-Ducks coach and now a disgraced ice rink manager. Along the way, Evan enlists the help of other tweens like his best friend, the girl he admires, and a motley crew of odds and ends from his school. Together, they struggle through hockey drills, social cliques, and parental pressure to figure out how to be a team.

And here, team equals … family.

Several of the kids come from homes where parents have divorced (some leaving the picture completely) or where the parents seem more concerned with the rest of their lives than what is going on with the kids. Of course, on the other hand, there are parents who care TOO much: they’ve come to view their kids’ lives as their lives extended, vicariously making up for something they missed out on or failed to accomplish. For the Don’t Bothers (the team’s moniker), the team becomes the safe place where they can be themselves, challenge each other, and be loved unconditionally regardless of success or failure. And along the way, it’s the place where they learn that they don’t need to be anything they’re not, or worry about the artificial construct of “cool” that is so prevalent in school and society.

While I was initially skeptical that the show could really extend, even build on, the good feelings of the films, halfway through its first season, Mighty Ducks: Game Changers continues to provide laughs and emotionally-powerful moments that will keep audiences coming back for more.