This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it's like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself."
The protagonist was once a no-name average joe who enjoyed playing their favorite game at the local sandlot, community park, or with the local Wildcats. This individual always had incredible natural talent, which has in fact taken him or her to the next level: the big league. This of course has two immediate effects: the protagonist becomes the hero of many of their friends and community members, but at the same time also engenders hard feelings from friends who feel jealous or abandoned.
Whatever the protagonist has done with their skills in the big league, something invariably goes wrong, and they lose their focus. They can't seem to make the big plays or come through in a clinch. In other words, the protagonist has lost their groove. Sometimes it's a momentary case of Every Year They Fizzle Out. Even worse, it almost always happens before the Big Game.
So what is the remedy for this loss of grooviness? The protagonist will customarily return home to rediscover themself, renew relationships and resolve differences (cue Friendship Moment), and remember why they loved the game in the first place.
Usually this trope is used as Stock Aesops about not forgetting where you came from and/or the importance of friendship. It can also be a commentary on how the big league distorts the purity of sport.
Anime And Manga
- When Harue Akado's professional mahjong team is disbanded at the beginning of Saki Achiga-hen, she returns to her home town and becomes the coach of her old high school's team, hoping to exorcise her semi-final loss in the inter-high tournament years ago.
- Happens in Rocky Balboa to the villain. He's the Heavy Weight Champion but can't find either respect or a worthy opponent in the ring, so he goes home to his old gym.
- The first two of The Mighty Ducks movies have some version of this involving Gordon Bombay.
- This is strongly averted on The Shield. A pro basketball player tries to go home again and just hang out with his buddies. He gets caught up in a Strike Team warrant sweep, and they hold him hostage in a hotel room so that they can win a bet on the Lakers. Then it gets much, much worse.
- Stretching the definition of sport a bit, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai returned to his hometown on the eve of a milestone battle, meeting up with classmates and cooking for them, even reconnecting with his high school teacher. He ended up getting a letter from another classmate, Isao Makio, who wished to challenge him.
- This is how the plot of American Idiot ends. JOS, after being stuck in a dead-end job and becoming a rebel without a cause, ends up going home and forgetting about his old girlfriend, Whatsername.
- In South Park, Stan is unable to handle the wealth and fame he attains through playing Guitar Hero. He stops playing with Kyle on the advice of his manager, and eventually the stress leads him to an addiction to Heroin Hero, until the end of the episode when he quits his contract, reunites with Kyle, and abandons his fame. Together, they finally manage to get a million points (but are less than thrilled with the reward).