Glory Road Movie Term Paper

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Glory Road Movie

The story of Don Haskins, the long time and Hall of Fame college

basketball coach from Texas Western/UTEP had been largely uncelebrated

until the 2006 release of Glory Road. Directed by James Gartner and

staring Josh Lucas as Coach Haskins, the movie depicts his 1966 National

Championship run as the barrier breaking coach who was the first to start

all black players and win the National Championship. Defeating perennial

power and all white Kentucky, Haskins helped break down the racial barrier

in sports, particularly in the South, and thus by not only playing black

players, but winning with them, the story told in Glory Road is truly an

important event in not only American sports history, but also a story which

sheds light on and highlights much of the racial issues which are prevalent

in sports.

Glory Road takes place in the 1960s, primarily in Texas and in the

general atmosphere of the racial tensions existing in the American South

during the time period. In the movie, the African-Americans who Don

Haskin's recruited are given little opportunity to play collegiate

basketball and although they have a love for the game, they do not see it

as a viable alternative. They are well aware of the limited opportunities

afforded to black athletes and to African-Americans in general. However,

it seems Don Haskin's is oblivious to this as he cares only about winning

and thus is willing to defy the established norms of NCAA Division I

basketball in the South and play his men regardless of color. It is not

until later as the season develops that he begins to realize the social

implications of his actions as head coach as Haskins and his team become

something more than just a basketball team, but a team that is playing for

something more than just basketball. They encounter violence,

intimidation, racism, and stereotypes even from their opponents such as the

famous Coach Rupp of Kentucky. The setting is thus one of a heated

atmosphere, however there are some who appreciate what Texas Western was

doing in revolutionizing the game of basketball and thus sports in the

United States. Nevertheless, the setting was one of tension, racism, but

ultimately one ripe for change in the 1966.

The movie in itself is a testament to the challenges that racism

created in the past. Personally to me, by portraying the great story of

Don Haskins, Glory Road is a reminder about what it took to get to the

point we are today in sports. It shows us what had to be overcome in the

past and therefore I feel we can better appreciate the present. But it is

also about the mishaps of racism, and a constant reminder that all people

are the same and there is nothing wrong with challenging socially accepted

ideas which are wrong. Glory Road is also an important illustration of the

power of sports in transcending social problems and enacting social change.

Sports, as a non-violent but important area within the United States and

even throughout the world helped make non-violent change and helped society

to progress. Glory Road, to me personally, means many things and shows the

limitations and capabilities of sports as a microcosm throughout society,

as well as the inherent flaws in racism. Going even further, Glory Road is

also a testament to the power of people to overcome and the strength of the

individual and a group of individuals to unite behind a cause regardless of

what is perceived by the public. It is a story of the good winning over

the bad, the right over the wrong, and proof of the power of people to do

what they feel is the right thing. To me, Glory Road is a powerful story

touching on many important aspects of life.

Thus Glory Road has some main themes which help to illustrate these

concepts, particularly concerned with racism in sports. The first theme is

whiteness in sports, which is highlighted by the atmosphere surrounding the

players from Texas Western. As Don Haskins goes to recruit, he looks at

primarily white players, but then is forced to recruit black players

because they are given little opportunity in the predominantly white sport.

The whiteness in sports was dominant; white athletes were considered to be

smarter and black athletes were considered unable to win at the highest

levels. This is further exemplified by the fact that there were unwritten

rules limiting blacks participation in college basketball, and also

reflected in the African-Americans' notions that they would not have the

opportunity to play in college. Surely, this whiteness in NCAA basketball

was not just in one sport, but reflective of the general notions of white's

dominance in sports.

This whiteness in sports is also suggestive of another theme, white

privilege. Whites are given the upper hand in society and this is

reflected in college basketball. Whites were given opportunities for

scholarships and playing time ahead of blacks regardless of talent. It was

not until after Haskins beat him that Rupp recruited the first black player

at Kentucky. This is indicative of the notion of white privilege as whites

were afforded greater opportunities in sports than blacks. And while

Haskin's helped to break down the color barrier in major college sports,

this does not instantly change people's minds and end white privilege, and

therefore the racial overtones of the movie have greater implications on

the long-lasting issue of white privilege in sports and also in society.

Racism relating to sports is also a key issue in the film as sports

help to overcome racism, but they also help to re-enforce it. Basketball

separated blacks and whites along social lines in ways which helped to keep

racism in sports as it existed in society. Yet sports were also a way for

a group of black individuals to make progress by defeating an all white

team, and thus helping to break down the barriers of racisms. Sports

offered a non-violent way of competition between blacks and whites, but it

was also used as a way to limit the opportunities afforded to blacks. Thus

racism was a key aspect relating to sports and racist attitudes within

society carried over to amateur athletics as well.

Lastly, Glory Road deals with stereotypes regarding athletes. Glory

Road goes along way to defy the stereotypes because the athletes it depicts

from Texas Western were such strong individuals who used sports, not only

for the competition and love for the game, but also as a means for an end.

The key members of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team used their

opportunities at Texas Western as springboards to a more successful life

afterwards. But also, they were strong individuals who understood the

implications of fighting racism and stood strong in the face of threats,

racial tensions, and violence. Instead of fighting back or quitting, and

there were times that these two alternatives were possible, the athletes

including the whites and the blacks adapted to their changing lives and

made progress for the better. The black athletes stood strong and the

whites understood their roles in the historic season, and the Texas Western

basketball players therefore went a long way in defying negative

stereotypes towards athletes.

These themes relate to the class as they are integral aspects of the

development of sports, particularly in the United States. Sports have not

always been just about the game, but instead social aspects come into play.

The story told in Glory Road is an example of sports and their

relationship to society and how society impacts sport and sport impacts

society. The issues of whiteness, racism, and stereotypes within society

transcended to sports but sports made it possible to transcend social

norms. Furthermore, overcoming racism and the integration of African-

American and other races into sports was a big issue and the issue of race

did not just disappear with one Texas Western team. Rather sports had to

evolve through racism, and racism continues to be an issue within sports in

America. Whiteness, white privilege, racism within sports, and stereotypes

against athletes are themes depicted in Glory Road that have and important

historical and philosophical relationship with the development of sports in

America, as well as other places throughout the world.

My faith also relates to these themes as my faith believes that all

people are equal. It does not matter what color they are, or what they

look like, but that they should be treated equally. In Glory Road, society

does not treat people equally. But Don Haskins does and he does not see

race. He sees talent and he wanted to win, and he treated people equally

for their own ability. This is much like how my faith relates to the

themes of the movie, as my faith opposes discrimination, racism,

stereotypes, and treating people as inferior because of their race. In

relating to the themes of the movie, involving whiteness privilege, white

dominance in sports, racism, and stereotypes against athletes,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Glory Road Movie.  (2007, May 31).  Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/glory-road-movie/261108

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"Glory Road Movie."  31 May 2007.  Web.  14 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/glory-road-movie/261108>.

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"Glory Road Movie."  Essaytown.com.  May 31, 2007.  Accessed December 14, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/glory-road-movie/261108.