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Adolescence is one of the most turbulent periods of a person’s life, where good guidance and the consequent choices can make or break one’s future. This is the essence of this movie, adapted from the real-life experience of Ken Carter.

Coaching children in a rough neighbourhood where death and incarceration are more probable than graduation, we see a basketball coach that demands excellence on the Court, and enough effort off of it so as to enable his players to have a realistic chance at college. This movie instils in the viewers the importance of clarity and vision when making choices that impact one’s future. This is a story of grit, persistence, and discipline which leaves you content and amazed. 

Movie is set in a place where the public’s interest in secondary education seems entirely focused on sports, where coaches are more important than teachers, where scores are more important than grades. Coach Carter wants to change all that. He walks into a gymnasium ruled by loud, arrogant, disrespectful student jocks, and commands attention with the fierceness of his attitude. He makes rules.

 He requires the students to sign a contract, promising to maintain a decent grade-point average as the price of being on the team. He deals with the usual personnel problems; a star player named Kenyon Stone (Ron Brown) has a pregnant girlfriend named Kyra (R&B singer Ashanti, in her, ahem, first role), and she sees a threat to her future in Carter’s determination to get his players into college.

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Ken Carter’s most dramatic decision, which got news coverage in 1999, was to lock the gymnasium, forfeit games and endanger the team’s title chances after some of his players refused to live up to the terms of the contract. The community of course was outraged that a coach would put grades above winning games; for them, the future for the student athletes lies in the NBA, not education.

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One basketball player said Carter’s decision might save their season.

“Any time something improves around here, it gets killed because of grades,” said Chris Dixon, a junior and an Oiler guard. Dixon, who has a 3.0 GPA and played quarterback on the football team, said he knew of a few teammates who could use the extra study time.

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Before the season, Carter required players and their parents to sign a contract stating that “basketball is the hook and education is the goal,” which demands strict commitments from the players, including: studying at least 10 hours a week; attending all classes; sitting in the front row of every class, and attending two tutoring sessions per week.

All California students competing in CIF-sanctioned sports are required to meet a minimum grade point average of 2.0, a C-average. What observers find so unusual in the Richmond case is that all the players on the team are above that bar.

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By: Debarati Pal

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