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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Teens > Basketball > The Heart Of The Game (Basketball Documentary)

The Heart Of The Game (Basketball Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Documentary: B



In yet another impressive sports documentary, Miramax and Disney have wisely backed Ward Serrill’s The Heart Of The Game (2005) telling the tale of a phenomenal girls basketball team called the Roosevelt Roughriders who rise out of nowhere and become an amazing underdog group playing their way to the top against all odds.  Everyone has character and interesting dynamics to contribute, but the coach (here Bill Resler, a one-time basketball hopeful getting his due) and a star player (Darnellia Russell) who makes the biggest difference of all.


Narrated nicely by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, we see the struggles, good times, bad times and unusual situations this inner-city group has to endure and how it all comes together.  As they head for the big game towards the end, Darnellia has a personal crisis when she becomes pregnant and keeps her child.  Now, with all the anti-abortion rhetoric going on and talk about “family values” we have heard to death, you would think she would be commended for making the “right choice” and could continue her playing on the court, correct?


Instead, the governing body so objects to her personal life that she has to take them to court to play and they cannot fault her academically since she is doing exceptionally well there.  Without giving away what happens, this aspect of the true story was so outrageous that with sports so often valued over academics at schools anyhow, one wonders if this would not have happened if she had money, was connected to big money, had prestigious parents, was white, was male or was not a black female from a tough neighborhood.  Did they think they needed to make “an example” of her?


The documentary never asks this, but I will.  If she was white or the school was going to make millions on her, you bet they suddenly would have been buying diapers, giving out free daycare, promising a scholarship and embracing her as one of God’s children and a future pillar of the community.  Instead, it smacks of discrimination, which amounts to a metaphor for all the underdogs in this work, including the white male coach who it turns out was himself discriminated against in what could have been an amazing basketball career in his own right had he been allowed to play.  The Heart Of The Game says that if you have the talent, you can still make your mark without implying the myth that success will always happen for those who have naïve enthusiasm.


Anything good is hard work, then there are all those who cannot help but stand in your way.  Those who know the latter should not be denied success just because they know the truth.  Don’t miss this one.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is from much low definition digital and analog sources, so it is not very sharp, clear or rich, but this is a documentary and that becomes less annoying as the story becomes more involving.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix tries to boost the dialogue and sound recorded on the spot, but is fine for a documentary presentation.  Extras include deleted scenes with a commentary option, full length audio commentary with Director Serrill, a making of featurette and update on what has happened to some of the team since this was released.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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