On April 23, ESPN personality Mike Golic attended the exclusive premiere of the "We Could Be King" documentary, during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. According to research, it is shown that students who play sports are fifty percent more likely to attend class, and are more likely to graduate and attend college; yet funding for sports programs in schools nationwide are being cut. Tribeca Digital Studios and The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation partnered to present the Judd Ehrlich directed documentary "We Could be King" which looks at the issue of how sports programs and how budget cuts affect inner city students by focusing on Philadelphia’s Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Cougars football team.
Last night "King" was screened at the Sunshine Cinemas at which the Cougars and their coach Ed Dunn, who were featured in the film along with actor Michael B. Jordan (who starred in the football themed series "Friday Night Lights") and athlete Victor Cruz were in attendance. It was explained in the documentary that Dunn took over coaching duties after being laid off from his teaching job due to budget cuts, and made it his mission to help the Cougars break their two year losing streak. Further complicating Dunn’s efforts was the fact that rival high school Germantown was forced to merge with MLK Jr. High School and the Cougars after Germantown became one of 37 Philadelphia schools to be closed due to budget cuts.
Besides Dunn, the main characters of the documentary are Cougar players and Martin Luther King Jr. students Dontae Angus who at 6’6 quickly becomes one of the team’s star defensive players struggles with academic challenges which threaten to derail his football success, and Salvatore (Sal) Henderson whose football dreams are also greatly threatened by being in the wrong place at the wrong time which leads him on a path of becoming another statistic—a youth of color in the prison system.
Young high school athletes will be sure to relate to some of the students profiled in the documentary such as Donte’s struggle with overcoming academic troubles and learning to accept one’s own body image. The film also serves to open the eyes of the powers that be at Philadelphia’s school board on the impact that sports like football have on educational success.
In an effort to stress the importance of sports programs in schools Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation presented Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite with $250,000 check as a donation — through a "Sports Matter" mission to keep high-school sports funded.
After the screening, continuing the celebration of the power of sports and togetherness, guests gathered at The Jazz Room at The General for the official after party.
Kadeem Lundy contributed reporting.