Through don haskins character in glory road movie

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Selvie Oktovia

English Department, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta

Address: Jalan Betet No. 32D RT 004 RW 01, Jakarta Barat 11210

Mobile: 08998183507; Email:

Wishnoebroto, S.Pd., M.Hum., M.A.

English Department, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta

The research was focused on the historical event of a basketball coach who formed a basketball team with African American players as majority. The main purpose of this research was to determine the factors that influenced Don Haskins to recruit African Americans to Texas Western University in Texas and to identify the roles of sport in racial issue. The research method applied was library research. The analysis was done by taking some dialogues, observing the character of Don Haskins, and applied the Critical Race Theory. As the result of the analysis, it is implied that the Don Haskins recruits African American players because of his childhood experience and his ethic code of coaching. Besides that, the university also does not have enough budgets to recruit talented White American players. Sport was identified to have two roles in racial issue. Racism did occur in sport, but the sport itself was considered as a medium to decrease racism of minorities.
Keywords: racism in sport, Critical Race Theory, character, equality.

Penelitian ini berpusat pada kejadian bersejarah seorang pelatih basket yang membentuk tim basket dengan mayoritas beranggotakan pemain basket berkulit hitam. Tujuan utama penelitian ini adalah untuk mengetahui factor-faktor yang memengaruhi Don Haskins untuk merekrut pemain berkulit hitam ke Universitas Texas Western di Texas dan untuk mengidentifikasi peran olahraga dalam masalah ras. Metode penelitian yang digunakan adalah metode studi kepustakaan. Analisis dilakukan dengan pengambilan beberapa dialog, mengamati karakter Don Haskins, dan mengaplikasikan teori Critical Race. Disimpulkan dari hasil analisis bahwa Don Haskins merekrut pemain berkulit hitam karena pengalaman masa kecil dan kode etik yang dipegangnya dalam melatih pemain basket. Selain itu, Universitas Texas Western tidak memiliki dana yang cukup untuk merekrut pemain basket berkulit putih berbakat. Olahraga diidentifikasi memiliki dua peran dalam masalah ras. Rasisme sudah jelas terjadi dalam olahraga, tetapi olahraga itu sendiri dianggap sebagai alat untuk mengurangi rasisme minoritas.

Kata Kunci: rasisme dalam olahraga, teori Critical Race, karakter, kesetaraan.

Race is an important issue all over the world because most of discriminations happened in different countries based on people’s racial distinctive. Most racism happened from hundred centuries ago and remains until this modern era where most countries are inhabited by people with different races and cultures. Besides that, racism has given effect to the occurrence of wars, slavery, the formation of nations and legal codes. Racism exists in a lot of aspects of lives and it is nearly impossible to eliminate racism. In the middle of twentieth century, when segregation was not an unusual happening in the United States of America, a lot of black people had demand to eat, have an education, or even use washroom in the segregated area. Racism in sport is still happening these days and it is not only happens among the players or the athletes, but also among the supporters. In order to prove that racism and its role in reducing racism of the minorities, the writer chooses Glory Road movie which presents a real storyline about racism in the southern in 1966.

There are two researches having the same topic that has been conducted by Michelle Kimi Arishita and Febriyanti. The first research entitled Racism in Soccer: Eliminating Soccer Racism and Using Sport as a Vehicle for National Change, which was written by Michelle Kimi Arishita. The research problem is how far the role of international sport events in reducing racism. The goal of the research is to find out the role of international sport events in reducing racism. The second research entitled The Analysis of the Aspect of Racism in the Mulatto Social Life from Character Emma Lou as Reflected in Wallace Thurman’s Novel in “The Blacker The Berry”, which was written by Febriyanti. The research focuses Emma as a mulatto and her motivation to solve problem when she was in mulatto’s society. The goal of the research is to know and understand more about Mulatto through Emma’s character and to tell how the mulattos get along in the society to other races in American society.

The two problems that are intended to be answered by conducting this research are “What influences Don Haskins, a White American, to form a basketball team that mainly consisted of African American players in Texas in 1966” and “How far is the role of sport in racial issue?” The goals of this research are To find the reasons influencing Don Haskins to form a basketball team that mainly consisted of African American players in Texas in 1966 and to find out how far the role of sport in racial issue.

The method that is used to conduct the research is library research. This research is conducted by finding the topic first, which is racism in sport. After that, it is necessary to select media which is going to support the research. Apparently, Glory Road movie is the suitable medium for the research. The next thing that is necessary to do after collecting all the data needed for conducting this research is by watching intently the movie Glory Road. The movie is not only watched, but also observed to get the storyline and the idea of racism in sport. After selecting the media, it is important to find some theories from text books and e-books, theses, and journal articles which are going to be related with some aspects in the movie. Besides that, the writer is going to find the transcript dialogues and screenshot of the movie. Moreover, it is important to find the sample of the subtitle to support the screenshots that relate to the theory. The last step is to list all the data that has been collected such as the screenshots and the subtitle from the film. The data analysis of the research is from the Glory Road movie. The research is going to be analyzed through the intrinsic elements which consisted of character and characterization, setting, and plot. In character and characterization, the writer is only going to analyze one character, Don Haskins as the main character. The setting and the plot of the story are going to help the writer to explore the character deeper. Then, by using five elements of Solorzano and Yosso’s Critical Race Theory, the elements of racial issue are going to be analyzed to answer the problem formulation.


The discussion of the research is classified into three main parts. In the first part, the writer is going to analyze the intrinsic elements of Glory Road movie, which is the character and characterization, the plot, and the setting. The writer is going to discuss the description of racism on the movie in the second part. Lastly, the writer is going to apply Solorzano and Yosso’s Critical Race Theory to Don Haskins character.

The first intrinsic element that is analyzed is character and characterization. The analysis of character is limited to the main character of the move, Don Haskins. Don Haskins, a discipline and tough basketball man who makes a big decision that makes him enter the world of racial issue. He was born during the time of Great Depression on March 14, 1930 in Enid, Oklahoma. He came from an ordinary family; he was not rich, but he was not poor as well. His father, a truck driver and a former professional basketball player, affected Haskins’ passion in sports. In the movie, he is described as a basketball coach and also a good husband and a good father in his family. He loves his wife and also a figure of father who spends time to play with his children.

The characterization of Haskins is a White American who forms a basketball team consisted with seven African Americans and five White Americans. Not only that, he even dared to make the seven African American players as the line up in the basketball match against Kentucky Wildcats. Having African American players as line ups were an impossible event in the southern, but Haskins did it. There are three people who have a big role in affecting Haskins character: Haskins’ father, his college basketball coach, and his childhood friend. Little limping Haskins always went along his father’s hunting trips and his father got him a rough homemade weight. Haskins had to wear it on those hunting trips, although he needed to hike for about 20 miles from daybreak to sundown.Don Haskins was coached by Henry P. “Hank” Iba, the Iron Duke of Defense in college basketball. It could be concluded that Iba was one of the factors that affects Haskins tough and discipline style of coaching. Haskins used the same discipline and zero tolerance for mistake that Iba did. Because of his coaching style, Haskins was also known as “The Bear”. Haskins spent his early teens developing his game by playing one-on-one with his friend, Herman Carr. Carr was a skillful African American basketball athlete who studied in a segfregated high school in Enid It shows that Haskins did not care about race and background and decided to recruit the African American players because he had past experience of his friend in his teens.

Don Haskins is considered a flat character because although he becomes acknowledged by a lot of people in the end of the story, he does not experience any personality changes. From the beginning of the movie, Haskins is portrayed as a great father to his children and a loving husband to his wife, and until the end of the movie, he never changes; he always a father and a husband who loves his family. He never gets shaken by people denial of him and his basketball team because he believes in the players’ skill, and not differentiates them based on their race or background. He makes a huge decision by playing seven African American players so they are able to prove themselves in front of all the people who underestimate them because they are African Americans.

The analysis of plot element of Glory Road movie is divided into exposition, conflict, complication, climax, and resolution. During the exposition stage of the movie, the main character, Don Haskins, is introduced as a women basketball coach in Fort Worth, Texas. Although the team consists of women, Haskins does not treat them like they are women. And as the result, Haskins’ team wins the match and there is a man who is impressed with his skill in coaching basketball team and that man recruited him to Texas Western University in El Paso, Texas. Haskins talks with the Dean of the university and Haskins finds out that the university is a low-budget university for basketball, so they are only able to provide Haskins and his family the men’s dorm as a shelter. He takes the offer and moves to Texas Western University men’s dorm with his wife and his kids. However, when he looks at the university’s court, he thinks the court and team is awful. The team is lack of skillful players and the basketball court also was not in a good place to train and play real basketball. There were even some birds flying over the ceiling of the court and the lights did not work properly.

The conflict happens between Haskins and the Dean. Haskins wanted to recruit some skillful basketball players in the Southern to make a great team for Texas Western University. However, the Dean could not afford to recruit talented players in the southern because the university did not provide any budget for recruiting new skillful players because it cost a lot. The university was only able to provide the players with some scholarship. Haskins could not ask for more, so he tried to recruit some players that he had his eyes on. However, he got rejected every single time. Some players did not even know about Texas Western University.
The complication stage of the movie begins when Haskins got really frustrated because he was not able to recruit any talented players by giving them scholarship because Texas Western was not a well-known university. Then, in a college summer league in Kansas City, Kansas, he saw a black player sat on the player bench with his head down. Near the end of the match, the player was called in by his coach and Haskins saw a talent from the boy. He made up his mind and tried to recruit the boy, Bobby Joe Hill. However, by recruiting Bobby Joe Hill, an African American was a big issue in the Southern because at that time there were no African American basketball players in the southern. Even Hill himself, at first rejected Haskins’ offer because he knew that if he joined in an Anglo American basketball team, he would rarely played in court. He spent most his time sitting on the bench during the match. However, Haskins convinced Hill that Haskins only looked at players by their skills and talents.

The story gets worse because of differences of basketball game style between African Americans and White Americans. African Americans have their own style of playing basketball. They do not play fundamental basketball, but they play street ball. However, street ball is not usual at the South and the rules are also different. They did dunk shot and any other techniques that were not common in White American basketball playing. The story gets uglier when Haskins’ wife, Mary, turns out to hide hate letters that were sent to their place. Incidentally, Haskins found out about the letter and asked Marry to show it to him.

The climax is reached with the ‘David versus Goliath match.’ When the game started and people knew that the team had seven African American players as the line up team, the team got booed. However, they were able to prove themselves by playing basketball really great and won the game against the Kentucky Wildcats, which was an event that people would have never predicted before. Everybody was surprised with the result, and people celebrated the winning together.
The resolution stage of the movie is shown the scene of Haskins and his players went back to El Paso, Texas and a lot people waited for them and gave them their blessing and celebrated the winning of Texas Western. The scene also presents the future career of Haskins and his players.
The setting of Glory Road is very essential because it allows certain things to happen in the story. The time and place setting make it possible to portray the social setting that actually existed in real life in that period of time. The identifications of the physical setting and social setting of Glory Road movie are going to be elaborated in the following paragraphs.

The setting of this movie mostly occurred in Texas Western University, El Paso in 1966 and most scene took place in basketball court. The other physical settings are some regions in the Northern, where Haskins recruited the African American players, like Detroit. The last scene is occurred at an airport where a lot of people cheered for their winning.

Social setting refers to manners, mores, customs, historical background, and codes of conducts in the society. The movie shows the codes of conducts in the society which is the classification of White American as the majority and African American as the minority to differentiate their existences and presences in the society in 1966. The story of Glory Road movie took a historical background of Texas Western University winning against Kentucky Wildcats in 1966. That occurred during the civil rights struggle year in the Southern America when African American received a lot of discrimination in different aspects of life, especially in sport. It is certain that in 1966 racism in sport occurred a lot in the Southern. Some of African Americans are able to join a team and prove themselves by showing their skills in sport. However, some African American players are not allowed to play because of racial issue. It is also possible to recognize that multicultural team has bigger chance to win than the racist team.

The analysis of the main theory, Critical Race Theory, is divided into two main parts: Don Haskins’ motivation to recruit African Americans and how Haskins manages to solve both the internal conflicts and external conflicts.
Herman Carr, Haskins’ childhood friend, is one of the factors that influences Haskins to recruit African American players. Haskins has an African American friend showing that he is not a racist. He befriends with Carr just the way he befriend with the others. They become close because they work together and they share the same interest in basketball. In his childhood, Haskins witnesses discrimination that experienced by his friend directly. Carr has a great talent in basketball, but because he is not a White American, he does not get the same opportunity that Haskins gets. Their relationship raised Haskins’ consciousness enough to make him to recruit more African American players when he coached at Texas Western University. From Haskins’ experience with Carr, it shows the first point of Critical Race theory which implies focusing race and racism in sport at the same time as acknowledging their relation with other shapes of subordination and oppression. Because of the event, Haskins for the first time consider the existence of race and racism in the society. He also recognizes the form of subordination and oppression when he finds out that Carr, a great basketball player, is not able to continue play basketball because Carr is in the oppression side.

Haskins did not care about the race or the background of the players from the beginning. He merely focused at their skill and talent in basketball because. This shows that he does not care who is in his team as long as the players have the talent and the courage to play in the court. He believes that he played to win so he needs to have the best talents, even though it makes him to take a great risk. He recruits the African American players because he knows that although African Americans have stereotype as naturally good basketball players, these players have to work just as hard and be just as creative as White players to be good basketball players. He does not consider himself more superior than the African players.

Haskins action is accordance with Critical Race Theory approach which involves the commitment of institutions to acknowledge the various capabilities that students and communities of color have to offer so that people will be able to move toward social and racial justice. Critical Race Theory proves the dominant ideology and White privilege are incorrect, while formalizing and emphasizing on the experiences of people of color. Haskins wants the African American players to be recognized by their talents that they offer in the basketball court.
Another reason is because of economy factor. Texas Western University in El Paso was not a well-known college, it was quite a remote area, and the college was a low-budget one, so a lot of White American players in the southern did not know about the college and decided to reject the offer from Haskins. No single talented and skillful White American basketball players thought that they would be able to develop and won the championship if they were in Texas Western University. The university also was not able to provide a proper facility to the players. The first time Haskins came to the basketball court, he was speechless of the condition of the basketball court

Haskins experiences a lot of conflicts, from arguments among his players to threats against his family because he plays African Americans dominantly in his team. However, he deals with the conflicts and does not have any pressure because of the problems. There are only two things that are significant to him, which are his family and lead his team to victory. He takes care of his wife and children, and he does what he could do to win the game. That means that he will play the best players, regardless of color. Every player needs talent to get their position and they needs to play well to maintain their positions in the team. It is true that he works on the African American players harder than the White American players, but he does that to make the African American players tougher and stronger because Haskins himself knows that no one in the South wants African American to lead a game.

In the game against Iowa, Texas Western got left behind 21 scores because Haskins did not allow the African American players to play their game. The African American players desperately asked Haskins to let them played their basketball. However, Haskins had his principle in coaching, and he could not just let them to play their basketball in the place where street basketball style with dunking or any cool moves was unfamiliar. Haskins is not able to allow the African American players to play their street ball because they play at the South which is dominated by White Americans. Although Haskins does not care about the racial thing, but at least he wants them to respect the game in the South. However, the African American players were really struggling over to score some points, and of course it also influenced the White American in the team. Realizing that the team could not win if he did not do something, Haskins called Hill and let the African American players to play their basketball. However, Haskins emphasized that the African American players also had to play his fundamental, disciplined, and defensive basketball. He allowed them to play with their street ball, and he also wanted them to play without breaking the basic rule. As a result, the team made their comeback in the game and won the game against Iowa, the number four in the nation and the first top-ranked team in 1966.

From the game, it shows that Haskins always communicate with all his players. He listens to all player voices, not only the White American players, but also African American players. He gives the African American players freedom to play with their style, and also wants them to responsible of the freedom given by not breaking the basic rules of basketball in the South.

Moreover, Haskins also got pressure from his wife, Mary. At first, Mary accepted that they had to move to El Paso because of Haskins’ new job, but apparently Haskins became really busy to train the team and Mary wanted Haskins to spend time more with his children, just like before they moved to El Paso. Besides that, Mary could not stand the pressure insulted by other White Americans, and wanted Haskins to stop the team. She thought that the basketball was not worth the pressure and discrimination that they faced. However, Haskins thought different because for him the basketball was more than a game. The match became the medium for him and his players to prove their existence in the society. After the team managed to reach the final, Mary recognized her husband and the team hard work.

Haskins’ decision to allow seven African American players playing in the final 1966 NCAA championship is a big issue, but it is also a resolution to the conflict itself. Haskins gives the African American players opportunity to play in the court and to prove that they are able to win despite all the pressure that they receive. Haskins uses the chance because he is also fed up of the insults directed to the team. Haskins wants people to focus on his players’ talent, not on the racial issue. A lot of newspaper report the winning of Texas Western University, and also cover the development of the team throughout the 1966 NCAA championship. Haskins values the voices of the African American players which are from marginalized racial group. He does not think himself as a legend because he breaks the unwritten law. He values the minority voices that they want to play in the court, not just wasting their time sitting on the bench just like when they play in other teams.
Haskins also affects the White American players to be able to recognize the African American players. It is certain that the White American players also want to play, especially in the final. However, the White American players are able to accepted Haskins’ decision and do not mind that they do not play in the final because they have already acknowledged the talent of the African American players and they know that it is their best chance of winning by playing five African American as starters. The White American players are able to accept the decision because they have played together in the team and know each other quite well. They do not accept the African American players at first because African Americans, who are minority, become majority of the team. After all players in the team get along well, the White American players do not consider themselves to be sacrificed for the sake of the African American, but for the sake of the team.

From clarifications above, it implies that Haskins creates opportunity for his African American players to bring themselves to the court and shows what they have. Haskins do not care the other White Americans’ view of him and his team. This behavior of Haskins shows similarity with Critical Race Theory’s commitment. Critical Race Theory has a huge commitment towards individual freedom with certain responsibility. This theory relates with human emancipation and questions the traditional majority idea that existed in the society. In the 1960s African Americans did not have the same opportunity as White American as segregation limited the African American in doing what they want, and it contradicts with Critical Race Theory that dedicates to social fairness and desegregates the factors of freedom and transformation. However, Haskins, a White American, gives his African American players freedom to play responsibly and to earn respect from people who underestimates them. He wants his players to become figures who recognized by their talents and skill in basketball, not based on their skin color. That makes him to train the African American players harsher than he trains the White American players because the African American players need to grow stronger and optimist to be able to overcome the conflicts and pressures surround them.

Critical Race Theory also involves the transdisciplinary nature that means Critical Race Theory’s ideologies create a basic theoretical account to take in sport and leisure academics to give new consideration about their position on race and racism. Sport is a complex issue, especially if it is related to racism. In Glory Road, African Americans were considered not deserve to play as major players in 1966, especially in the Southern and certainly it showed racism in sport. However, after the winning of the Texas Western University team, it shows that sport takes part in reducing racism of minorities. That means that sport has two positions on race and racism that even though racism exists in sport, sport itself is considered as a medium to reduce racism of minorities. Although the process to earn the acknowledgement is conflicted with racists, from the result of winning the 1966 NCAA championship shows that sport as a medium to reduce racism of minorities is more dominant than the existence of racism in the sport itself.

The movie title, Glory Road, has a symbolical meaning inside it. It shows the struggle that the African American players’ experience to be admitted in the society. The road is bumpy, but they walk step-by-step and finally they earn their fame and got acknowledged. In spite of the resentment they receive, the African American players play each game the best they could. They also were able to play with the White American players and play a great team play. They experience some conflicts both out the court and on the court. However, they keep playing their basketball and every time they win against a team, they are covered in newspaper, and slowly they are acknowledged by the public. They earn their fame by making people recognizing their hard work and talent in basketball. Therefore, Glory Road indicates how African American players are able to earn their fortune instead of the racial difficulties that they are facing. Those difficulties encourage themselves to fight for their rights by showing their hard work and talent to the public.

From the analysis in chapter 4, the writer finds some distinct factors that motivate Don Haskins to recruit seven African American players to his basketball team related to Critical Race Theory. The first one is in his childhood, Haskins has an African American friend and his friend does not get the same opportunity as him to play basketball not because his friend could not play as good as him, but because his friend is an African American. Carr makes Haskins aware of the existence of race and racism in the society. The second factor is that Haskins is a sportsman who value people based on their personalities and talents. The point of social justice and colour-blindness of Critical Race Theory Haskins does not care about the racial issue happened in the society. Lastly, Texas Western University in El Paso does not have a high budget for the basketball team in 1960s. Talented White American players do not want to waste their talent playing at Texas Western University. The university also does not have a good image in the eyes of White American players, so it is impossible for Haskins to get talented White American basketball players only by offering them scholarships.

The values of Critical Race Theory also are shown in ways Haskins solves both internal and external conflicts. Haskins manages to solve the conflict by using marginal voices and transdicplinarity. Haskins listens to the opinion of African American players and he considers sport as a medium to help the African American to be admitted in the society. White American as the dominant of the society has an unpleasant image towards the minorities, and this also happens to the Miners. The White American players in the team are threatened with the existence of African American players. The inter-team conflict is solved and all the players get along so all the unpleasant images go away, and they end up supporting each other to be the winning team.

In this research, the writer uses three theories, which are racism, intrinsic elements of literature, and Critical Race Theory, and focuses on one character. However, there are other applicable theories and problems that can be conducted for the next researchers who are interested in Glory Road movie. The researchers also could analyze remaining intrinsic elements that are not analyzed in this thesis to find other hidden meaning in the scene. It is also possible for the researchers to compare Glory Road movie with another movie which has similar topic to find either the differences or the similarities from both movies. The writer hopes that the suggestions would be helpful for the following researchers who want to do further research.


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Selvie Oktovia was born in Jakarta on October 11th, 1992. The author graduated her Bachelor degree at Bina Nusantara University in the field of English Literature in 2014.

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