Glory Road Glory Road is a movie that is based on actual events that occurred at Texas Western University in El Paso in 1966. It addresses the walls that the players and coaching staff faced during this time period due to racism. There were stereotypical associations with the players that were recruited made by the school and angry fans of the school. However, with courage, pride, and trust the players and coaches passed all the barriers of racism and made history at the seemingly subpar school that would go down in the books forever.
Don Haskins was a girls’ high school basketball coach at the time he was recruited by Texas Western College to take over the men’s basketball program. Due to a practically non-existent recruiting budget, he is unable to attract the more popular and well known white players to the school. However, refusing to give up on his winning ways, he sends his assistant coach to New York City to recruit school yard black players that he has heard impressive stories about. He also travels to Indiana and Michigan and eventually racks up 7 exceptional black recruits to play for him.
Most of the school administration is very unhappy with Haskin’s choice to recruit so many African American boys to play basketball for their school. They do not seem to share Coach Haskin’s belief that the player who can help you achieve a victory through hard work and passion is the player that should be put on the court no matter the skin color. Haskins refused to give into the pressure and added the 7 recruits to the team of all white players. He continues coaching them on how to play fundamental basketball instead of the street style that they are used to playing.
They begin their season and are very successful and continue to rack up victories. The team faces racial slurs and disdain from spectators of southern teams that they play but they continuously brush this off and prove they are worthy enough to play by coming together as a team and winning. However, as they become more successful and well known, the racism escalates to levels that had not been reached. While in the south after a game, a player is surrounded in the bathroom and beaten, on another night, the team walks into heir hotel room and finds that it has been trashed and “nigger” has been sprayed on the walls. This racial tension starts to wear on the players until tempers boil and there are accusations thrown at the white players by the African Americans. However, the whites convince them that they are all a team and in everything together no matter what. After this obstacle is overcome, nothing can stop the team and they make it to the NCAA championship with only one loss. They defeat the powerhouse University of Kentucky and snub the apparently racist coach.
During the recruiting process, Coach Haskins is informed of the unspoken rule concerning black players in the NCAA, which was to play one while at home, two on the road, and three if the team was losing. Anything more than this was asking for trouble. When he questions this, he is told that black players do not respond well under pressure and that they are not calm enough, or intelligent enough to play without white direction. This is a perfect example of racial stacking.
Whites were the players that were expected to respond under pressure and play the positions that demanded thinking. However, let it be noted that if the team is losing, more African American players are called in and this was accepted because they were expected to pull the team out of a deficit. This is very contradictory because basically what was being said was that African American players could not handle pressure but if you are losing you should play more, and that it was unfair to use more than a certain number.
At one point in the movie, the black members of the team sneak out of their dorm room and go to a bar in Mexico. The bar is filled with Hispanics and whites and the blacks are an uncomfortable minority. However, later in the movie the roles are reversed when the whites accompany their black teammates to a party with all of their black friends. There is an awkward stand-off until a black girl asks one of the white players to dance. These are both good examples of minority groups.
A minority group is a socially identified collection of people who experience discrimination and social discrimination. In both situations, there is a minority group due to the places and situations that they are in. At one point, one of the white players comments about being the racial minority on his own team and he is forced to see that this is how the blacks have felt their entire life. There are perceived opportunities when it comes to the development of sport skills.
For example, Haskin’s assistant finds the recruits playing on factory property and city-park run down basketball courts. Basketball is seen as more of a city sport because the courts are very inexpensive to maintain and there is not much equipment needed to play. The game is aggressive, even more so in city games where it is survival of the fittest. When the recruits start practice with Haskins he has to drill them into playing fundamental basketball and not the street game that they are so accustomed to playing.
For the African Americans, basketball was more than just a game to play while they were earning a college education; it was the only way that they could find to overcome the barriers of achievement that they saw in many other aspects of life. When Haskins threatens to cut one of the African American players because he did not play tuff enough on the court or give his all in practice and games, the player was so disturbed by the thought of leaving his new basketball team that he came to practice the next day and left with a broken nose because he wanted to make it very obvious that he would never give up.
This movie has several good examples of how important sport can be in peoples’ lives and how a sports team can bring a school and town together. At first, the coach did not even have his superiors confidence or support and by the end of the movie, he had the support of administration, faculty, students, and the members of the town. How the team played together truly represented how to live with integrity, tolerance, and acceptance.
It showed the townspeople and spectators that anything was possible if you just learned to work with people, no matter how different you think they are from you. This movie deals with several instances of racism and intolerance and also shows an extraordinary team of whites and blacks that are able to overcome everything that is thrown at them and end the season with not only a NCAA championship, but also life lessons in tolerance and empathy that were worth more than any title that could have been obtained.