Throughout Steve James’ Hoop Dreams, the main characters, Arthur Agee and William Gates, had many tough decisions to make. They were faced with the everyday challenges that come along with living in the inner-city, as well as the pressure of basketball on their shoulders every single day. They had a ton of choices to make throughout the movie, but were these choices really theirs to make? Were the choices even their families’ to make? Sometimes when it comes down to certain decisions, the outside world influences your decision and takes away the opportunity to choose.
Agee and Gates both have a choice to make: should they go with the man that recruited them to St. Joseph’s to play basketball for a more prestigious program than their public high schools? The answer for both kids was yes. Not necessarily because they wanted to, but because they had to. The choice was never theirs to make. Both Agee and Gates dreamed of playing professional basketball. When St. Joseph’s came calling and showed the kids their superior facilities, better coaches, higher basketball prestige, and the network of scouts and recruiters that came to their games, it was a no-brainer for the kids. They had to go to St. Joseph’s. Not to mention the fact that it was a private school with good academics and a support system that is there to catch you if you start to fall, unlike anything that exists in the public schools. Not only was the goal of professional basketball their dream, but it was a dream adopted by their families as well. It was a means for their families to move out of the inner city. So basketball ruled the decisions for this family whether they liked it or not. The decision to attend St. Josephs ultimately hurt Agee, as he had to drop out because he couldn’t afford it and he missed a semester’s worth of credits. Often times these kids do not have the privilege to choose what they want, but rather are forced to take the only option that makes sense.
By the end of the movie, both kids eventually realized they were going to have to mature and make the right decisions for themselves. While neither player played a significant role on a college basketball team and neither player made it to the NBA (their original goal), they both made the right decision to further their life. They both successfully used basketball as a tool to further their education and as a means to get themselves into an institute of higher learning. They both took it into their own hands – made their own decisions – to take advantage of the opportunities they had in front of them, even if they meant not achieving their childhood dreams of playing professional basketball.