This cropped up in my Netflix, and being a fan of basketball, I wanted to watch this. Low and behold, I am watching it. It crossed me as one of those inspirational sports films. But with a mix of comedic value in the film. Glory Road has a largely unknown cast and of course is based on a true story of Texas Westerns NCAA Tournament. However, something that should always be remember, this film is set in the 60s.
The story is the true story of Coach Don Haskins, who takes a major pay cut to coach at the NCAA Divisional college team Texas Western, which has next to no funds and no recruitment process. Don Haskins realises the potential of a black player at a player invitational. Realising the potential of these players, that have be passed up due to the colour of their skin, regardless of the skill and potential that was present.
The Coach then compiles a team of seven black players and five white players, a roster that was previously unheard of. Naturally, Coach Haskins works on the fundamentals and believes in team play and none of the showboating that was previously shown in the montage of the recruiting of players. In the training of the players, naturally the Coach is tough on the players which is always evident in these kind of inspirational sports films.
The team in movie fashion gets off to great start, but face a difficult challenge in the fourth-seeded Iowa. This causes a dispute in the fundamentals that were enforced by the coach but also how the players would like to play with their showboating. Of course, the team plays with a mix of the two styles and goes on and wins.
“It’s like making sweet music with your game, only thing is you don’t wanna hear the song.”
However. As they become more successful, the more attention they gain, which causes disruptions. It’s worth remembering, this was the 1960s and that black sportsmen weren’t as well tolerated as they are nowadays. The black players rooms were broken into and blood thrown against the walls and threats scrawled across the walls too. This causes tensions in the group whilst they continue to gain momentum into the NCAA tournament.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, of course. But being a true story, it’s not hard to look up Don Haskins and find out his story. He was rewarded with being inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame for his coaching with Western Texas. Ultimately, it’s about the power that was given to the first starting five black men, that was fielded intentionally by Coach Haskins which shocked people watching the NCAA championship game.
In all honesty, this film isn’t groundbreaking or special in any way, it’s just as regular as the rest of these sports films. In all honesty if you mixed the hostile situations seen in Remember The Titans and took Coach Carter’s stance on playing basketball, you’d essentially be given Glory Road. But that being said, if you enjoyed both of those films, chances are you’ll like Glory Road. As it does create that hostility, maybe not to the extent that the black people of the 60s would have felt, but it’s definitely there. But in one particularly gruelling scene, one of the members of the team is beaten up in the toilets by two adults. The racial and hatred towards the team continues to occur, especially when the team start winning more frequently.
What is refreshing in this, there is some comedic value in the film, through the character interactions with each other. Especially their music battles on the buses for road games, but also at the very start Don Haskins shouting “I’ll buy you a skirt if you carry on playing like a girl” and a matter of fact, he is coaching a high school girls team.
I think most importantly, like in all sports films, there is that brotherhood that appears. Of course during their tremendous run into the NCAA tournament, the team show this brotherhood, but then hangs by a thread when the black members of the team blame the racial abuse on their white teammates purely because of the colour of their skin. Although it’s not actually them as it’s happening in the stands during the road games. The framework is visible, and as I mentioned not groundbreaking, but essentially, it is just a mix of elements from Remember The Titans and Coach Carter, however this is based on a true story, so the situations the team were placed in actually happened.
As I said, it’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s an easy watch, and a delight for the college basketball fans that know their NCAA tournaments, as it does feature Pat Riley in one of the teams (not the real Pat Riley of course). And with the big montages of the Miners dominating the other teams, it becomes a well rounded film.