What We’re Reading: The Secret Game

the secret game: a basketball story in black and white by scott ellsworth book cover

Available at the Main Campus Library (GV 885.72 .N8 E45 2015)

This book was read by Charles Farrow, a Library Technician at the Main Campus Library.

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

#ReadGreatThings2018 Categor(ies): A book about or that features sports AND A book that takes place during or is about a historical event 50 years or more in the past

What is this book about? 

Sunday, March 12, 1944 at 11:00am. The Secret Game.

In this book, Scott Ellsworth writes about a day and time in Durham, North Carolina during the Jim Crow era when two teams from opposite sides of the tracks–Duke and NC Central– ignored Jim Crow laws and decided to play a game that was never supposed to happen. It started out as a challenge, but ended up being more than just a game.

Why did you choose to read this book?

I chose to read this book because of a conversation I had with my son about black athletes in the Hall of Fame from HBCUs and how the historically black colleges and universities that produced them have been overlooked in sports history. We also talked about the history of black athletes at places like the University of Alabama, Duke, and the University of North Carolina and when they were allowed to participate in various sports.

What did you like about it?

I like this book because it brings to light that being an athlete is not just about playing a game. For some, it goes deeper than that. This book reveals a deeper truth that sports are not just about winning and losing. It shows that some of our greatest challenges are not from a physical opponent, but from our own system of beliefs instilled in us from childhood. I like this book because it reveals to the reader that sports transcends race, culture, nationalities and shows us how to overcome barriers and adversity by working together as a team and being a team player.

Did it remind you of any other book, or a movie?

The movie Brian’s Song

What would you pair this book with?

I’d pair this book with an archaeological dig, since that’s how much work the author had to do in order to find out about and report about this game. 

About Meredith Lewis

Meredith is a reference librarian at Durham Tech on both the Main and Orange County Campuses. She likes fantasy, science-fiction, and historical fiction and is trying to be a better reader of non-fiction (just after she finishes that stack of novels on her bedside table...)