All March Madness means to me is that I probably have to extend the recording time for 60 Minutes on my DVR because there will probably be some basketball game running overtime when the program is to start.
Glory Road played the other night on a cable channel. I decided to watch it again, and it reminded me that you can even hate basketball - which I pretty much do - and still really enjoy this film. The actual game of basketball has very little to do with what makes Glory Road a must-see film - especially for the younger generations for this is a true story of how prejudice is overcome by principle and strong will.
Those who do know of the basketball season depicted in Glory Road will know of Don Haskins who was the coach at Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso). Texas Western was one of the first southern colleges to integrate its sports teams, and the final championship game of the 1966 season was the first in which all starting players were Black.
Haskins is depicted as a strong-willed man set upon his proven strategies as a coach who learns some new things from the cocky Black players recruited to bring life to a failing team. He is played by Josh Lucas who gives us a man who might look young and unsure on the outside but is strongly willed and principled. Haskins was thirty-five at the time of the game as was Lucas at the making of the film making him perfect for the part.
Another strong, though short, performance in the film is by Jon Voight as Adolph Rupp, the opposing coach in the NCAA Championship game. Rupp was sixty-one at the time of the game and noted as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Voight's depiction of Rupp as a man of an earlier generation disdainful of a young coach breaking the rules and the color barrier is chilling.
If you haven't had the opportunity to see Glory Road, I recommend a viewing for it is an inspirational sports story as well as an insightful lesson in history. If you have seen it, take some time from watching The Big Dance and watch it again.