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Don Haskings: A Basketball Coach With A Vision

836 words - 4 pages

Don Haskins was the head basketball coach at Texas Western College from 1961 to 1999. Growing up in the 1940s, he had a love for basketball but he lacked raw talent. His friend, Herman Carr, who was black, was a better player and they had played many games together during the course of their primary school years. Haskins was always bothered by the fact that Herman had to drink out of the coloured fountain, and use different restrooms. He did not understand why he was being treated as inferior despite being a superior player. When they graduated high school, it disturbed Haskins to learn that Herman did not receive a scholarship to attend university, simply because he was black. This was a tragic realisation that would haunt Haskins throughout his career.
Once he left University, he became a high school coach. He started male and female players, black and white alike, because they were his best players and he hated to lose. Eventually he took a pay cut in order to teach at the colligate level. This mentality of starting his best players was controversial; many of the best athletes were African American. He regularly played four black starters and he got a great deal of backlash for doing so. He had a rule for the players, who would have to put up with racial slurs and callous looks. No one could look at the crowd unless he looked at the crowd. This rule got them through some of the most racially tense games of the season.
Despite being incredibly lazy, his 1966 team was by far the most talented he had ever coached, and they would win every game with minimal effort. Their talent lead them to NCAA Championship game where they would play against the all white team of the University of Kentucky. In a courageous but controversial move, Haskins decided to play five black players, in order to improve their chances of winning. They won the game 72-65, but Haskins gave the credit to his team. He was obligated to play his best players during a championship, no matter the repercussions.
Haskins himself received the most backlash after the game. He received over 40,000 hate letters for starting an all black team. The head coach of the Kentucky team started rumours that Haskins recruited some of his black players from the Tennessee State Prison, when in reality it was a college in Tennessee. Sports Illustrated reported that he took advantage of the black players on the team and accused him of...

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