To say that picking this week’s 30 for 30 reaction was hard is an understatement. I spent the better part of an hour racking my brain trying to decide which direction to go in because the possibilities were endless.
But finally I decided on the Ghosts of Ole Miss and I was not prepared for the documentary I was about to watch.
Like always, here is the short official recap of the film before we dive in: In 1962, the University of Mississippi erupted in violence over integration while swelling with pride over an unbeaten football team.
Now let me preface this post by saying that prior to watching this film I knew next to nothing about Ole Miss. I knew that Michael Oher played there (Thanks to the Blindside) and of course that Archie and Eli played college football there. But that’s it, so this film was definitely eye opening.
I always like it when 30 for 30s focus on more than sports. And I know I’ve said this before, but this film is a real life history class and is a must watch. In 1962 race relations in the Oxford Mississippi were no better than in 1862 when the civil war happened. So when James Meredith decided he wanted to attend Ole Miss, becoming the first African American to do so, those on campus did not want him on campus. To which I say, who made the white people on the campus God? Who decided that because Meredith was a different color he shouldn’t be allowed the basic right of education?
I know that means a lot coming from a white female, but were we not all created equal? Do we not all bleed when cut? Why does the color of our skin matter? It really shouldn’t, but it still does even in 2016 which is the saddest part. Throughout the film I kept flashing back to the riots in Ferguson or Baltimore, the only difference is in those instances it was African Americans rioting instead of whites like back in 1962.
The most interesting part of this film is that usually sports have a way of bringing people together and giving them a distraction from the nonsense going on around them. But for the 1962 Ole Miss football team that didn’t happen. Their success was grossly overshadowed by the riot that happened that fateful night. Few remember that they actually went undefeated and they stayed together to show the world the positive side of Ole Miss.
It’s fascinating that this group of 42 guys were able to stay together when their university was crumbling around them and go undefeated. They didn’t go on to play in the National Championship game most likely because of the riot tainting their record, but they played their hearts out in the Sugar Bowl and won.
So I raise the question: Do the Ghosts of Ole Miss still dance? Will the university ever be able to shed this black mark that is the riot? Or will they forever be reminded of that horrible night when humanity lost to animalistic desires?