05 March 2013

Cultural History, 50 Years On

On the cusp of this year's college basketball tournament silliness, (re)consider the age of Ramblers — as told by Michael Lenehan — when issues of race provided tournament-related events on and off long discarded gravitas.

The Loyola Ramblers played out of a Jesuit school in Chicago. Prior to topping Cincinnati to claim the 1963 national championship, they outplayed Mississippi State in a regional game held below dark storm clouds of racial inequity (and iniquity) and within it a context of city versus country, the cultural evolution that turns Mississippi delta blues into Chicago's electric blues, and concepts of education embodied in a small Catholic educational institution taking on a large public university.

1963. A year filled with catalysts for significant changes to American culture.. A Hollywood ending for a basketball story. A reminder of how far attitudes have had to come and a bit of perspective on why all the yelling and screaming and hype that doesn't celebrate the sport as much as the spectator and paid observers is so much about so little of real importance. 

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