glory road

59m.jpgSince the Red Sox were on the west coast this week end, the Saturday night game was a 10:05 PM EST start. This meant that as the kids were in bed by 9:15 we had some time to kill before the game started. Stephanie had recorded Glory Road on the DVR earlier in the week so we figured we would watch the first few minutes and then switch on the Sox. We would get back to the movie later…or not if we didn’t like it. Well we watched the film straight through and it was the Red Sox who had to wait for a later viewing.

Glory Road is a based-in-fact story of the 1966 NCAA champion Texas Western College Miners (now called the University of Texas at El Paso) men’s basketball team, which fielded history’s first all African-American starting lineup of players to take a Division I national championship. Hall of Famer Don Haskins, portrayed by Josh Lucas, was the coach who “changed the history of college basketball” …this only two years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I knew nothing of this story until I heard Bill Littlefield interview Don Haskins and the author of the book that inspired the movie on his Only A Game radio show last winter.

The story is full of moments where, unexpectedly, race becomes an issue for many of the characters, regardless of their skin color. I liked how a number of prominent, powerful white figures were shown not being overtly racist, but rather ignorant of the situation that blacks found themselves in that era. The cast was great and with the exception of a small role for Jon Voight, there were no big name actors. The soundtrack fits well with the era and was used both as background in some scenes and directly as part of the action in a few cases. While there is no new ground broken with this film, it is a great feel-good story about how pride and teamwork can overcome even the harshest of obstacles. The irony is that it is rare today to field a team in college or pro basketball that is not of a simliar makeup to that of the 1966 Miners.

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