The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

All-black basketball team set stage for today

By Ryan Mercer/sports editor

   In 1966, the Texas Western University basketball team’s performance in the NCAA championship forever changed the way black athletes would be viewed.
   As told in the currently released film Glory Road, the story of the ’66 Texas Western Miners (now University of Texas-El Paso) is one of the most influential events in sports history.
   For the first time in any sporting event, an all-black lineup squared off against an all-white lineup.
   Many people thought the white athlete was far superior, so the all-black lineup from Texas Western would be no match for the all-white Kentucky Wild Cats considered the best team in the country at the time.
   The game wasn’t even close as Texas Western won the Championship. Before the ’66 championship, the black athlete was scarce in the college basketball landscape.
   Many universities didn’t offer them scholarships and coaches didn’t always want them on their teams.
   Now, it is almost unheard of not to have a black athlete on any team in any sport.
   That’s how significant the story of Texas Western is.
   This was a time in America when people were changing, and the country was changing.
   Only a handful of universities had black athletes on their teams let alone their starting line-up.
   The event depicted in Glory Road shows how color had no factor in determining the skill, ability and the will to win in an athlete.
   The prejudice against black athletes was just as bad as it was everywhere else in the country. There were black athletes in pro sports and some who played at major universities.
   Yet many schools in the South, such as the University of Kentucky, didn’t allow blacks to play for their schools.
   Schools without integrated teams suffered through some rough seasons while schools with great black athletes would simply overmatch their white counterparts.
   Since the events of Glory Road, only one national champion in any sport has been won without a black athlete on its roster: the 1969 University of Texas Longhorns in football.
   The moral of the story is this: an athlete’s ability does not come from the color of his skin but the size of his heart.
   Black athletes are no different from Caucasians as they all must have that competitive drive and will to win.
   The story of the 1966 Texas Western Miners can be summed up as athletes competing in an event far greater than a basketball game.
   These athletes were playing not only for their school but also for themselves, their coach, their teammates and their pride.
   Sports events are more than just arenas for showcasing talent gained from hard work.
Being an athlete is more than just playing a sport; one must show dignity and class to earn respect.
   Athletes compete in sporting events to gain the respect of their peers and to be recognized for their effort.
   Respect and recognition are what the Texas Western Miners got for their unbelievable run in 1966.
   That and a place in sports history books for advancing participation of all athletes.

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