The Rocky Road to the Future

         Dateline 1965, the United States is at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Rosa Parks had been arrested for the ridiculous reason sitting in the wrong seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was spreading his "Dream." Many things had begun to change, but some other things had not. One of these things resistant to change was college basketball. The new film Glory Road, directed in 2006 by James Gartner, takes a look at what college basketball was like in the middle of the turbulent 1960's.

         The film opens at a small high school in a small Texas town. There we find Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) coaching a girls' basketball. Because the officials at Texas Western University have heard that Coach Haskins was a fine basketball coach, they have sent representatives to offer him a job coaching their men's fledging basketball team. Therefore, Coach Haskins travels to Texas Western to check out the program. Once he gets to campus, he accepts the job and moves himself and his family the men's athletic dorm. On the day that Coach Haskins meets the team, he finds just what he expected--several white players who have or display little talent for the game and one African-American player who has the requisite talent. However, the African-American Player was used as a last resort.

         After Coach Haskins does accept the job, he sees that the one African- American player has real talent, as well as a genuine passion for the game of basketball. Therefore, Coach Haskins goes recruiting with little help from the university and brings a team of seven African-American but only five white players. The movie gave the impression that Coach Haskins sees more potential in his African-American players because of their greater passion for the game of basketball. Hence, Coach Haskins ends up with a primarily African-American team, unlike that of any other in college basketball. At the same time, his team is very good and starts to win. Unfortunately, the team members--both white and African--American are mocked and called inappropriate names. Coach Haskins and his staff endure much ridicule but little backing from the Texas Western University President, who at times does some very ugly things to the team, such as blatantly telling Coach Haskins to start only the white players and asking for the dismissal of some of the African-American players. At last, though, Coach Haskins takes the team all the way to the 1966 National Championship to play the top-ranked University of Kentucky Wildcats, where for the first time in NCAA history five African Americans start in any basketball game, which they win.

         Glory Road is a wonderful true story of how one man working with others can make a difference. It will teach the viewer how to overcome the world's biggest obstacle life itself. Throughout the movie Coach Haskins and his team struggle to overcome their many obstacles, such as name calling among many others and win the NCAA championship. The 1966 Texas Western victory will always be remembered as one of the greatest upsets in college basketball. The win actually helped lessen the prejudice of African-Americans in college basketball. Perhaps, the greatest example is legendary Kentucky coach, Adolph Rupp, who was known for being somewhat of a racist. Coach Rupp, after being defeated by Texas Western, decided that maybe Coach Haskins was on to something; and in 1972 Rupp's final year at UK he recruited their first African-American player.

Adam Morton

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