Glory Road — a Miner Upset
I was compelled to write this because this movie never gets talked about, and I haven’t the slightest clue why. I suppose in an ironic way it’s fitting, as the subject of the film is an obscenely overlooked ragtag team of flashy basketball players that overcame the scoffs of the entire nation and singlehandedly earthquaked the landscape of the NCAA. In any case, here goes.
Glory Road tells the underdog tale of the Texas Western College Miners basketball team. First time Division 1 coach Don Haskins, fresh off a successful season of coaching girls high school ball, endured a pay cut to coach at the big time collegiate level. Armed only with a miserly budget and a less-than-sterling school athletics reputation, Coach Haskins did what he had to in order to recruit players — went after the ones no other schools wanted. In this case, he recruited talented yet overlooked black players. In the 60s, in which the true events of this film take place, this was unprecedented. Not many D1 schools had black players, and none dared to have as many as Haskins put on the hardwood. But he did what he had to do to put talent on the team, and overcame no shortage of obstacles on his way to a phenomenal and historic season resulting in a national championship.
I love this film for a couple reasons. First of all, in essence it’s a basketball version of Remember the Titans. Who doesn’t love that movie? “Left side, STRONG side!” I mean, cmon. But as amazing as that movie was, I’ve always had a much more robust penchant towards basketball, so Glory Road just totally got me. But perhaps more importantly, I truly appreciated the message — it’s the quintessential underdog story. A college basketball team of predominately African Americans in the Southern 1960s faced every gamut of opposition — racism, doubt, ridicule, and even hateful violence. Despite everything hurled at them, however, the team’s resilience and care for one another (not to mention their incandescent style of play and victorious season) silenced the entire NCAA. The character development as well as the growing brotherhood among the team was visible on the screen. In addidion, the little blurbs on what the actual players went on to accomplish in their post-college lives was the cherry on top of this stellar family friendly movie. Like the Texas Western Miners themselves, this film is unequivocally underrated.