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Discussion Guide: Q Ball


Movie Synopsis

Q-Ball is a documentary that follows the life of several inmates in San Quentin Penitentiary who play on the prison basketball team. This film includes themes of using sports to overcome life’s struggles, reckoning with and then learning from past mistakes, effective teamwork, second chances, seeing the bigger picture in sports and living with the harsh realities of the criminal justice system/prison life. This film is for mature athletes and audiences only, PCA recommends this film for mature high school athletes only.

Discussion Questions

  1. The San Quentin Prison Guard states the following, “We believe we have guys leaving our prison today with better outcomes and more hope for the future. Given the opportunity, there are people who can come to prison and reclaim the man.” Is this similar to what you think Prison is for? How much reclamation should there be versus punishment?
  2. Harry “ATL” Smith wants to be the first convicted felon to play in the NBA, which NBA stars came to San Quentin that inspired this dream?
  3. Coach Rafael Cuevas is a convicted felon who is coaching convicted felons. What are some ways that he changed the program from what it was before he started coaching?
  4. After hearing the stories for why they’re locked up, it’s obvious the players use basketball as a chance to escape their dire situations. How have you used sports to work through problems you’re going through?
  5. Harry got a scholarship to a division-1 school. What happened that changed his perspective and inspired him to go to “the streets.” Has that ever happened to you and how did you feel when it happened?
  6. If Harry doesn’t make it to the NBA, what other two life roles will he be excited to fill outside of prison?
  7. 7.) When the Warriors come to play, why was the G-league coach able to relate to the prisoners?
  8. When Harry thanks his coach after the game, what was the main thing he thanked him for, something he never learned from playing ball in the streets?
  9. What does Ant tell Harry to do in regards to prison life? Do you agree with him or not?

Our partner, Positive Coaching Alliance, provides a collection of movie discussion guides, which aim to help you make the most out of movie viewing with your team or child. Movies provide many of "teachable moments" parents can share with their young athletes helping them be successful, contributing members of society.

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