Books by Richard Lapchick

Released: Oct. 1, 1999

The philosophy of one of the top coaches in college football is showcased in this loving, uncontroversial autobiography. Robinson coached football at Grambling University, a traditionally African-American school, for 57 years. At the beginning of his career, colleges—and society—were still segregated, but Robinson handled each obstacle with a grace and determination instilled in him from childhood. This book, which is co-written with Lapchick, a columnist for the Sporting News, doesn—t offer Coach Robinson's play-making techniques or much about the actual events or results of the games. It also skims over any controversy (such as NCAA investigation of violations and possible player criminal activities), focusing instead on Robinson's modest, life-is-good perspective. Major social events, such as the civil rights movement, are presented as background only, since Robinson's life was basically carried out in the community of Grambling. He wasn—t an active or vocal participant in any protest, but rather broke down barriers just by doing his job as best as he could and by instilling his values into his student players ("I learned I could accomplish more by working for change within the system rather than openly fighting against it," he says). College football's integration occurs through social change and through the evolution of television, the opportunities for black colleges to play in the classics, and because of Robinson's ability to turn out talented players, many of whom became successful in the NFL, including Doug Williams, Willie Davis, and Willie Brown. What ultimately comes across in this autobiography are Robinson's basic beliefs: love of family (he is extremely devoted to his wife, Doris), love of country, love of the game, and commitment to responsibility. While one is treated here to Robinson's genial personality, the beloved coach is too humble to dwell on his accomplishments, so readers will have to find other sources to detail Robinson's true significance for the game. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) Read full book review >