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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Rupp Not Like Movie Portrayal

Fifty years have passed since the Texas Western men’s basketball team won the national title with a 72–65 victory in the final game over Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp.

In that game, Western’s coach, Don Haskins, started five black players for the first time in NCAA Championship history. Since then, a movie, Glory Road (2006), came out based on Western’s 1966 team.

Rupp is depicted as a racist in the movie, and he very well could have been, but I’ll always remember him differently.

In the summer of 1970, I attended a basketball camp at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va. Rupp came out one day and spoke to a gym half full of campers for about two hours. During that time, he pulled out a number of kids from the bleachers to demonstrate his plays. One was a black kid named Sammy.

I can still see Rupp praising Sammy’s game. At one point, he placed his hands on Sammy’s and complimented their size. He even threw an arm around Sammy’s shoulders.

In my mind, the gentleness he showed was not the way a racist would have acted. Even if he had been a covert racist, I don’t believe he would have made the gestures he did to someone he allegedly would have hated because of his color.

You don’t think a movie could have distorted the facts, do you?

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography