Here’s a review of the new HBO Sports documentary Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, which I enjoyed very much for its commentary on the race and class and power dynamic issues of big-time college sports. The review ran (no pun intended) in Counterpunch this morning.
RUNNIN’ REBELS OF UNLV:
ALL THAT IS BEAUTIFUL AND UGLY ABOUT SPORTS
I’ll admit it. For a supposed sports junkie, I haven’t followed the college hoops game much in recent years. With players at big-time programs rarely staying on for four years, the turnover makes it difficult to really get attached to a team. But recently I came upon the new HBO Sports documentary Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, and I couldn’t stop watching. All of a sudden, college hoops became not only significant, but essential, again.
At the close of the Eighties, UNLV (University of Nevada at Las Vegas) was one of the country’s premier basketball programs, and I was entering high school. I liked UNLV because they played an up tempo style that emphasized running and defense. They were exciting to watch, and more exciting to try to emulate, even from the isolation of a solitary basketball hoop in a suburban driveway, thousands of miles from the raucous lights of Las Vegas. Barely into my teens, I couldn’t then understand the significance that UNLV’s success had on the college sports landscape, but now watching the documentary years later, it’s nearly impossible not to appreciate their impact.