Across the Line
Profiles in Basketball Courage: Tales of the First Black Players in the ACC and SEC
The Lyons Press
$24.95 ($29.95 in Canada)
With February being Black History Month, now is the perfect time to check out Barry Jacobs’ Across the Line. Jacobs’ tome is a fitting tribute to the brave black basketball players who first suited up for ACC and SEC teams in the mid-1960s to early 1970s. The fact that none of these players will be known my most college basketball fans (with the probable exception of UNC’s Charles Scott) is a true crime.
Across the Line is an educational, yet very entertaining read. Each school’s first black player(s) is given his own chapter, allowing Jacobs to go into quite descriptive detail into the player’s background, the history of the school and the political and social climate in the southern states at this point in history. The hostile environment that these players were thrust into is truly shocking and sad and makes their lives all the more heroic. You truly shake your head in disbelief when reading about the racist mindsets of people at this point in time, many of them people in power positions of law enforcement, government and university leadership.
The world we live in today is far from perfect, as there are plenty of bigoted small minded people still around today (look no further than Tim Hardaway’s comments on homosexuals, a golf announcer joking that Tiger Woods should get lynched, or Don Imus). However, after you read this book and then consider that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both have fighting chances to be the next president of the United States, you see we are in a much better place today. Across the Line should be a required read for all college basketball players enjoying the freedoms that the books’ players helped make possible.
3.5 out of 5 stars