Concept2 recently invited Arshay Cooper, rower, author, speaker and activist, to speak with us about his film, A Most Beautiful Thing. Unlike our last visit in November 2019, this time Arshay visited us via Zoom and we were able to ask questions about the movie.
Narrated by the rapper Common, A Most Beautiful Thing chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in the US in the late 1990s. The team is made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, coming together to row in the same boat. Concept2 employees agreed that the movie made us laugh, cry, feel inspired and gave insight to how the sport of rowing provides opportunities to those living in challenging circumstances.
“The beautiful thing about this sport is that unlike football which provoked violence, or basketball, which involved trash-talking, rowing made me want to fight as a team. It’s a non-combative sport. In order to get back to the dock safely, you have to pull back together. It built a connection.” Arshay explains.
Arshay shared his vision for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics: where a boat that reflects the makeup of our country could win on US soil. Concept2 recently announced our partnership with the Pocock Foundation and HUDSON to support visions like this by creating more rowing opportunities for underserved youth. Arshay says, “You're doing the work. It is happening. We will continue to see the fruits of that labor that you're doing every day.”
“Arshay is such an inspiration” remarked Concept2 Customer Service Representative Cady Hart-Petterssen. “His experience really resonates with me that the sport of rowing can change lives, because it changed mine. It’s emotional to hear how big this impact can be.”
Brett Maxwell, in Purchasing, really appreciated that Arshay saw the work being done to build rowing in underserved communities as happening “brick by brick”. Arshay explains this elegantly, as how it happens in a boat: “I can't do the work of eight people, but I need eight people to do the work.”
Concept2 is eager to be part of this team. A Most Beautiful Thing is highly recommended and increasingly accessible: the film is streaming for free on Peacock and will be available on Amazon Prime starting October 14. The film is based on Arshay Cooper’s fantastic book of the same name, available on Amazon.
Please note that this film is UNRATED and recommended for ages 16 and above (due to discussion of abuse and mild profanity).