CHAPTER 14
Hoops: Winning Games and Guiding Men
Bowen Zhou
To most people, the first impression that comes to mind upon
hearing the word “educator” is of teachers and professors in schools;
the classroom is the only space where studying and learning take place
in the commonly understood sense of those terms. In fact, reality is
much different because educators have other identities and fill different
roles. This chapter explores consistent narrative patterns in three iconic
films about basketball coaches: Coach Carter (2005), Hoosiers (1986), and
Glory Road (2006). With few exceptions, the coaches in Hollywood films
function not only as good teachers, who lead their players in winning
titles, but also as mentors as they help their players become better men
while managing competition on the court and conflict off it. What the
three coaches in these films hold in common is that the most essential
elements in terms of basketball education are mastering fundamental
skills and developing a high level of physical fitness. Together those
comprise the first and most important lesson of all basketball training.
Each of the three teams these coaches helm begin to reverse the losing
trends that the Hollywood coaches inherit at the beginning of the film,
and the first step toward achieving that reversal is establishing a severe
training regimen. But, to the coaches, the conditioning and practice
transcends basketball training because the attitude they cultivate toward
basketball reflects self-discipline and a desired attitude toward life for
their players.
For coaches in the movies, the minds and bodies of players are
both sites where education is situated. Those players have tremendous
potential, which serves as a fundamental cause of the team’s success
achieved at the end of the movie. In other words, both the coach and
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