Granny's Got Game is an inspiring feature-length (74 minutes) documentary film about a senior women's basketball team in North Carolina. These fiercely competitive women in their seventies battle physical limitations and social stigma to keep doing what they love. They started playing 6-on-6 girls’ basketball in the 1950s but stopped after high school as there were no opportunities to keep playing in those days. Now they must learn a new, physical style of play while overcoming the skepticism of their peers. The team has had great success together over the last two decades, winning a multitude of medals in senior games tournaments across the country. Just like so many younger sports teams, this one includes a bossy captain, a guard who never runs the plays correctly, a tentative post-player, and a benchwarmer who wants to play more than anyone. As teammates and friends,they support each other off the court through the difficulties that accompany aging, such as breast cancer and widowhood. These women are more than a team. They are a family. The film follows them for a yearlong season culminating in a nearly disastrous trip to the National Senior Games Championship in Houston, Texas.
This heartwarming documentary appeals to all ages and is not just for fans of basketball. In the end, it is an uplifting tale of overcoming life’s obstacles to keep doing what you love with the people you care about.
Granny’s Got Game is well suited for use in a variety of settings and is an excellent tool for engagement and education. The genuineness of the women in this character-driven story allows viewers to identify with them. This emotional connection can increase awareness and understanding on several key issues.
Granny’s Got Game discusses what each of the women have overcome to keep playing which includes sprained ankles, broken bones, heart problems, and cancer. The women share how they don’t always feel like playing, but once on the court they forget their problems and feel better. The story of this team leaves the viewer with no excuse not to exercise themselves and can inspire people of all ages to stay active.
From the soundtrack to the play-by-play commentary during the games, this documentary respects these women like the athletes that they are. The film not only focuses on the fact that they are still playing, but discusses the universal challenges the team has and the role of each player on the team. Audiences may be surprised at the skills and competitive spirit of the women. Viewing this film can change perceptions of the capabilities of the elderly and contest negative stereotypes about what it means to grow old.
Women’s Equality in Sports
These women had limited opportunities to play sports in their youth, but that did not stop them. They have found great success on the court later in life and the film illustrates the competitive and ambitious nature of female athletes of all ages. This insight into the world before Title IX legislation gives younger viewers a sense of perspective so they can appreciate today’s sports opportunities. It also primes viewers to support continuing efforts to increase gender equity in sports.
Granny’s Got Game highlights the support and encouragement the women get from being part of a team. Women with varying personalities have become friends during their many years playing together. This friendship strengthens and motivates them while battling cancer, post-polio syndrome, or dealing with a husband’s death. This example of community encourages other women to find fellowship in athletic teams or with any group with a shared passion. This support is helpful to a person’s well-being and mental health.