Coach Carter falls into the realm of high school sports movies that are only marginally about sport and mostly about overcoming adversity and focusing on a positive future. When sports store owner Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) is asked to coach the Richmond Oilers (his former high school team) he accepts the challenge even though he knows that it is a tough school in a tough neighbourhood fill with children who have seen too much and know too little.
American high school athletics stands alone in the world in the amount of importance placed on the performance of the athletes on those teams. This is mostly due to the nature of the American educational system wherein admission to a University is possible only if one has a great deal of money or a scholarship. The sports scholarship is more likely to be within the grasp of many students and has the added bonus of putting those students onto teams being scouted by professional teams. Basketball is a way out for some students and Coach Ken Carter knows this as he was once a high school basketball hero too.
Coach Carter expects more from his team than just playing basketball though and it is this concern for achievement as students first and basketball second that is the central conflict in the movie. While the movie is at times predictable Jackson’s presence on screen is undeniable and we have no doubt, even for an instant, that Coach Carter has at the heart of it all the interests of his players at heart. This is a very watchable movie with competent performances, steady direction and an average script. Jackson makes the movie but that isn’t a bad thing.