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The Underrated Sports Drama You Should Be Watching On Disney+

While sports dramas are often criticized for being formulaic, it's difficult not to root for them. After all, movies of this ilk tend to be inspirational tales that revolve around underdogs and unlikely heroes. Furthermore, the best ones wield the power to take viewers on an emotional journey with the coaches and players, following the characters as they come together in the face of adversity to overcome the odds on the way to a championship. Audiences can't get enough of them, so filmmakers keep churning them out. 

The history of cinema is also littered with some great sports dramas that focus more on social issues than they do on athletic competition. For example, "Remember the Titans" tells the story of a mixed-race high school team from a racially divided town that unites to conquer the end zone and change some attitudes along the way. "Coach Carter," meanwhile, centers around a strict coach who takes over a struggling inner-city high school basketball team and helps the players find purpose both on and off the court.

That said, while the aforementioned films are essential viewing in their own right, everyone who watches sports flicks is more than likely a fan already. However, there is another true-to-life sports drama on Disney+ that doesn't get the appreciation it deserves. 

Glory Road deals with some weighty themes

"Glory Road" is a 2006 sports drama that was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and marked the directorial debut of James Gartner (per IMDb). Based on a true story, the film stars Josh Lucas as Don Haskins, a basketball coach who accepts a job at Texas Western College in 1966. Tasked with guiding the college's team to a championship, the coach sets out to recruit the most talented players he can find, regardless of race. However, he makes history in the process, as his Texas Western Miners squad becomes the first all-Black starting team in the history of college basketball.

Sadly, Haskins' decision to ignore race in favor of talent doesn't go down well with the locals. Even though the victories keep piling up on the court, the team's new starting lineup incites racial hatred in the South. As a result, the coach and the players find themselves on the receiving end of threats, attacks, and vandalism, forcing them to overcome insurmountable odds on and off the court.

Despite the numerous obstacles in the way, however, the team manages to pick up enough victories to progress in the NCAA tournament, leading to a showdown with the top-ranked University of Kentucky and its legendary coach, Adolph Rupp (played by Jon Voight).

Glory Road was praised for its story

"Glory Road" wasn't a huge commercial success for Disney. The film made just over $42 million on the back of a $30 million production budget (per Box Office Mojo), which isn't a huge profit by any means. However, the film won the 2006 ESPY Award for Best Sports Movie, along with some other notable accolades, indicating that the movie resonated with some viewers and critics (per IMDb).

While "Glory Road" adheres to the tried-and-tested formula for sports dramas, critics praised the strength of the film's story (via Rotten Tomatoes). Legendary film critic Roger Ebert gave "Glory Road" three stars and praised the film's direction and references to the real people who inspired the tale. "James Gartner tells his story forcefully and makes a wise decision during the end titles to show black-and-white footage of many of the real people whose lives are depicted in the film," he wrote.

Fans of "Glory Road" have also commended the film for tackling and portraying difficult subject matter. "[The film] shows the issues of building an almost exclusively African-American team back in the days of segregation and shows the struggles of the players and how they were discriminated [against]," wrote Reddit user u/ItsAhMuzen.

Elsewhere, Redditor u/moviesmusicandhoops claimed that the film's final big game scene is a powerful cinematic moment. "There's so much drama and intensity that jumps out of the screen, brought to life by the impeccable acting of every single person on and off the court."