Rivalry between schools is nothing new, but rarely has it led to a full scale riot. In 1939, Lanier High School, a vocational school in Texas, found itself in the center of a sports fairy tale with an unhappy ending. Lanier, made up primarily of Mexican-American students, wasn’t known for its basketball team; their star player was 5’1”. That changed when the underdog Lanier team made the playoffs and eventually outplayed rival school Brackenridge High, an all-white school, to win the championship game. Lanier’s victory shocked everyone, especially the Brackenridge team, which was heavily favored to take home the championship. Good sportsmanship took a backseat in the aftermath, which saw players, fans, and even the police escalate the situation into a full scale riot.
Latino USA has released an in depth podcast about the Lanier story, which is detailed in the book “When Mexicans Could Play Ball” by Ignacio M. Garcia. We can’t recommend the podcast enough. Check it out here.