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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Coach Don Haskins is willing to do anything to break into Division I college basketball. That includes moving his family in 1965 to the scorching dryland of El Paso, Texas, living in a men's athletic dorm and dealing with a nonexistent recruiting budget ... all to head up the hoops program of notoriously football-minded Texas Western College. Rather than accepting the lowered expectations placed on him and the program, however, the rookie coach blazes a trail to find the best players who never got a shot.

His pioneering ruffles a few feathers when, in an unprecedented move for college athletics at the time, Haskins lands seven African-Americans on his squad. "I don't see color," he tells dissenters, "I see quick, I see skill ... and that's what I'm putting on the court." But his bold decisions unearth lots of problems. Racial division within the team. Disagreements on playing style. Rebellion against his harsh on- and off-the-court demands. University politics. And most notably, overt bigotry from fans around the country. With an improbable Cinderella season, however, the Texas Western Mighty Miners prove that winning heals a multitude of wrongs—and can even change the face of a sport.

Positive Elements

In typical Disney-sports-movie fashion, Glory Road is chock-full of inspirational messages. Teamwork trumps selfishness. Perseverance, sacrifice and hard work (in the classroom, on the court and in life) lead to rewards.

Respect for others gets preached. Family is esteemed as top priority. Haskins is hard on his players but explains to them it's because he sees the potential in them and, after they make it through his rigorous preseason practices, praises them for being talented and disciplined, and for caring about each other. He's also willing to change his coaching ways—to a certain extent—when he realizes his players may perform better with fewer restrictions.

Star point guard Bobby Joe Hill comforts his fellow black teammates after a racial attack and preaches that a violent response won't get anything done in the long run. His girlfriend encourages him by saying, "There's nothing that can't be taken away ... but no one can take away your desire." In a similar life-meets-sports vein, Haskins' and an assistant coach's pep talks include such verbiage as, "Your dignity's inside you," "Nobody takes something away from you that you don't give them" and "No one's gonna give you anything—you have to go out there and take it." Haskins also encourages the team to "shake off hate" and silence malicious fans by winning games.

When Haskins doubts himself, an assistant tells him he's doing the right thing. Haskins' wife admits to her husband that her initial judgments of his decisions were wrong. Even after hearing that they'll be benched in their final game, the team's non-black players express their support for their African-American teammates. A player tells his ever-supportive mother that he loves her.

Then there's the prevalent issue of racism. While Glory Road is no Mississippi Burning in its depiction of raw bigotry, neither does it hold back. Both blacks and whites are called names. Racial violence is par for the course (see "Violent Content" for more on that). A group of white men even claim that black players aren't "intelligent enough" to keep up with white players or to lead their teams. All of this, however, is included to show the obstacles Haskins and his team have to overcome—which, through doing, ultimately results in a positive, vital lesson.

Spiritual Content

A pregame prayer includes thanking the Lord for keeping the team together through highs and lows. Upon seeing the West Texas landscape, a new student comments, "If we're in God's country now, obviously the good Lord don't want no neighbors." After a player's mother asks whether Haskins goes to church, the coach honestly answers, "I'm ashamed to say, I'm a wretch"—to which she replies, "We all fall short and we're saved by grace."

Seeing his teammates wearing suit coats, a player asks if they're going to church. An assistant coach includes "spiritual advisor" among his job titles. A Muslim leader gets quoted. Several old-time gospel songs are played throughout the movie, many of which include biblical references.

Sexual Content

A player ogles his roommate's posters of pinup girls in '60s-style bathing suits. Bobby Joe brags in the locker room about staying up all night long with a girl. Haskins and his wife kiss. A guy is seen wearing only a towel.

Violent Content

On-the-court action often gets heated, with elbows thrown, brutal picks set, charges taken and shoves initiated. One player takes a shot to the nose, which ends up bloodied and broken. In the film's most disturbing depiction of violent racism, he later gets beaten up (again ending in a bloodied face) by a group of white men who punch him, toss him against a wall and stick his head in a toilet. After the incident, a player says he "could kill a honky tonight." The black players' hotel rooms get trashed after an away game, and we see racial epithets written on the wall. Fans throw paraphernalia at the Miners as they take the court. Haskins accidentally hits his little boy in the face with a bounce pass.

Crude or Profane Language

Single uses of the s-word, "a--," "h---" and "d--n" are combined with a few crude remarks and racially spiked references (the n-word, among others, is seen and heard more than once).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Against their coach's orders, several players venture out for a night on the town at a local bar. Hard liquor (mostly tequila) is seen on the tables, and there's talk of filling shot glasses. (It should be noted, however, that one player offers the quote, "Liquor steals a man's mind," and he says the group has been bitten by the "evil worm.") Later, the group once again joins a party, this time with players shown drinking beer. When Haskins opts to recruit an unprecedented number of black players, he's asked what he's been smoking.

Other Negative Elements

Glory Road tries hard to relay strong, positive morals, but it also sends a few mixed messages. As the supposed leader of the team, Bobby Joe sets a bad example throughout the season by overtly rebelling against his coach's demands. "He has his rules, I have mine—let's get in trouble," the star player defiantly tells his teammates. This wouldn't be such a problem if there were consistent consequences. And at one point, Bobby Joe gets his due, as Haskins finds him hanging out in the wee hours of the morning (a no-no) with his girlfriend (another no-no) and makes his star run stairs. The coach then talks to him about having respect for himself, his teammates, his coach, the sport and everyone who's helped him along the way. However, it's insinuated that Bobby Joe continues to buck the system the rest of the year—with no apparent ramifications.

Likewise, the black members of the team get in trouble on one occasion for staying out late and drinking. Their actions result in the team suffering under Coach Haskins' discipline. Yet later we see the entire team partying and drinking, and there's no aftermath.

After saying the wrong thing, a man is left curbside in only his boxers and undershirt. Two separate bathroom scenes include men using the facilities.


I'm a sucker for sports movies. And as a self-confessed basketball junkie for most of my life, I couldn't wait to see Glory Road—especially since I knew its history well. In real life, the story of the 1966 Texas Western men's basketball team truly ranks up there with the classic moments of sport. And not necessarily because it was, as the movie claims, "the greatest upset in NCAA history." Truth be told, Don Haskins' team was 27-1 by the time it faced off with the Kentucky Wildcats (who had the same record). Not quite the complete underdogs that the film makes them out to be. In addition, black players weren't that rare at the time. Texas Western had already broken the mold in the 1950s by recruiting black athletes before Haskins arrived (which was actually in 1961, not 1965), and a few NCAA teams outside of the South had done the same.

What was so monumental about Texas Western's showdown with Kentucky was the in-your-face stance against segregation Coach Haskins and his players took. In the movie, Haskins makes the last-minute decision to pit an all-black starting lineup against Kentucky's notoriously lily-white tradition, telling his players, "We're gonna stop this forever." The team's actions—and its ability to back them up on the court—truly did forever change collegiate sports' acceptance of black athletes.

As far as effectively relaying the heart of such racial defiance, then, Glory Road comes though in the clutch. But in the process, like Kobe Bryant attempting to change his ball-hogging image, it tries too hard. Scenes, characters and impacting messages feel forced and formulaic, as if Disney gave director James Gartner a Hallmark-moment-per-minute quotient to fill. I'm not complaining that a movie can be too positive. I'll take Glory Road over Any Given Sunday any day. But where Hoosiers worked as both a classic sports flick and a life lesson because of its combined subtlety and heroism, Glory Road opts for a little stylistic hot-dogging and a lot of predictability. The result parallels Remember the Titans—which, given the shoddy morals in most movies today, isn't necessarily a slam.

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Josh Lucas as Coach Don Haskins; Derek Luke as Bobby Joe Hill; Jon Voigt as Coach Adolph Rupp; Emily Deschanel as Mary Haskins; Schin A.S. Kerr as David Lattin; Damaine Radcliff as Willie Cager; Al Shearer as Nevil Shed


James Gartner ( )


Disney/Buena Vista



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Marcus Yoars

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