In Us Against The World, set against the backdrop of rural east Kentucky, a small school hires a new coach for their boys’ basketball team and goes on a tear when he recruits a group of athletic, skilled players who carry the team and the school to a title. The surrounding area promptly goes to hell; the coach is fired, and the school and town find themselves mired in racial controversy that turns their previously isolated, comfortable existence upside down.
What the boys and coach of Cordia High face in the ten episodes of Us Against The World is nothing less than the condition of life that is recognizable to any person of color who is a minority in America. The mindset of ‘50s-style paranoia, segregation, and unfair prejudice live on today, in towns and cities all across the nation.
The Lions worked twice as hard to overcome nightmarish conditions, traumatic loss, and the feeling of alienation in their unfamiliar, often hostile, new surroundings to become a shining example of the rewards of tenacity, hard work, and intense focus on a goal, only to be told, “You don’t belong.”
When we tell athletes, coaches, and journalists to “stick to sports,” we often miss the point; sports are a microcosm of the greater issues facing our society on a day-to-day basis. Watching this series about what happened at Cordia High School gives us a lens through which we begin to understand the mindset it takes to take an ordinary slice of America and regress to the bad old days of legal segregation and the kind of open racism seen in Charlottesville and in other places in America in 2017 — and how to beat it.
Us Against The World is the story that shows how true grit and determination in the face of seemingly overwhelming prejudice can create change, but it is also a reminder that the challenges are myriad, complex, and dangerously rooted into the very fabric of our society. Change takes work. It takes heart. It takes focus. It takes teamwork. It will take all of us.