Glory Road Movie Review

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Sources: 1
  • Subject: African-Americans - Social Issues
  • Type: Movie Review
  • Paper: #28357877
  • Related Topics: Sports, Basketball, Racism, Race

Excerpt from Movie Review :

Movie Review: Glory Road

The plots of sports movies have become so predictable that audiences have come to expect a series of clichés when they attend them. Glory Road (2006), however, is not merely about an underdog team or an inspirational coach overcoming low expectations or obstacles. It is an incisive history of racism in American sports. Although African-American players have made substantial inroads in college and professional basketball, at least as players (rectifying the racial imbalance in coaching has proven to be more difficult), the ability of players to be treated equally regardless of race was not always a given. Set in 1966, the film relates the story of an all-African-American starting lineup of Texas Western College, a lineup that was then a watershed in college basketball history.

Texas Western College even today is not known as a sports powerhouse, and this was doubly the case when Coach Don Haskins took the helm of its basketball program. Haskins was an unlikely selection, a selection which reflects the desperation of the team. He was working as a high school basketball coach of a girls’ basketball team, a resume that suggested he was not the most desired choice for an aspiring NCAA entrant. The film does not portray Haskins as initially wanting to foster greater equality in sports, but as a man desperate for a job in a slightly more competitive environment. As the underdog coach of an underdog team, Haskins was desperate, as desperate as some of his players to escape the streets and to play. He is on his last chance to prove himself, like the players he recruits. Haskins moves his wife and children to a remote location, staking everything on the chance offered by Texas Western.

Coach Haskins took the radical move of selecting the best players for the Texas Western College Miners, rather than taking race or class into consideration. The film portrays the team, again in true sports film fashion, as an initially ragtag band of players who need some finishing but who still have raw talent. The team consists of seven African-American players and five white players, a lineup that would hardly be unusual now, but during the height of the civil rights struggle in America, particularly in racially divided Texas, was considered remarkable. Over the course of the film, the coach as well as the players must learn from one another, and learn to trust one another across racial divides. Haskins initially is resistant to the more streetwise style of play embraced by the players, who have learned their game in a much more informal way than the average…

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…but narrowly pull out an impressive victory.

Ultimately, Glory Road is a history listen but also a satisfying sports film, with greater heft and depth than the average film. It also will encourage any basketball fan to view the NCAA tournament with greater appreciation of the sacrifices players have made over the years to ensure a more racially equal sport. Of course, the sport still has more progress to make, in terms of ensuring greater equality in its coaching ranks as well as its players, and also ensuring academic as well as competitive success for those on the court. But it is still important to take time to acknowledge the contribution of the Miners and their coach.

Glory Road is a film about race as much as it is about sports, and thus it ensures that the viewer realizes that sports is never merely a game. The players’ style is not merely personal, it is a reflection of their class and their history, and Haskins’ accommodation to it shows his compassion as well as a realization that he must learn like his players. When the Wildcats’ coach tells his own, starting bench that this is not an ordinary team, and to take them seriously, he is right. The Texas Western Miners were fighting for more than a title—they were…

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Work Cited

Glory Road. Directed by James Gardner, 2006.









 


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