By Krystina Lucido
The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central is a recounting of a season -- a high-school basketball season, but also a season of racial discrimination, a season when high-school athletes at Omaha Central in Nebraska learned about life.
The life The Rhythm Boys, the nickname for the all-black starting five on the boys' varsity basketball team, grew to learn about wasn't always cheery and accepting. In fact, it was the exact opposite.
The book by Steve Marantz, who also attended Omaha Central during this time, mainly focuses on star player Dwaine Dillard, but expounds to give a detailed account of life in high school and the city of Omaha were like in 1968.
Though Marantz tells this account with a first-person perspective, it never seems that way unless he blatantly puts himself in the account. His writing is fluid, descriptive and surprisingly impartial for someone who lived through the experience. Marantz seamlessly blends sports and the culture of the time.
Sports, in many cases, exemplify the culture of the time, 1968. Marantz mentions, but doesn't go into intense detail about, Dillard's getting kicked out of school after the season for behaviors exhibited during the season. Why did the administration not see fit to expel him before? Well, because the team was winning games.
Race relations among students often mirror the success of sport. During the basketball season, the starters were stars and ran the halls acting as such, mingling with white girls and being accepted at the affluent Jewish communities of classmates. During the postseason, tension arose that alienated the black students and made it difficult for them to excel socially and in the classroom.
The way Marantz tells this story rarely makes assumptions, but presents facts and allows readers to draw their own conclusions. Marantz walks readers through the school year, through all the events and day-to-day happenings, to paint a true picture of what life was like for students and athletes at Omaha Central, a changing of seasons from friendship and acceptance to distrust and divide.
More Front Row:
• The Bubba Smith That Few Knew
• Nightmare Journeys: Dreams Come True
• Wounded Warriors Get Boost From PING
• 'Rhythm Boys' Recounts Sporting Struggle
• Frazier's Good Luck Rubs Off On Orioles
• From The Cheap Seats
Issue 164: August 2011