Prior to watching Jeff Harasimowicz’s documentary, Alaskan Nets I blindly assumed Alaska’s residents ‘main ambitions and pride came from the fishing industry. That it partially true, however they also take pride in their basketball team. Specifically, the Metlakatla Chiefs which compromise of members of the Tsimshian Tribe. The team hasn’t made the championships since ’84, and the documentary is focusing on the team in 2018. Alaskan Nets sounds like it is solely focused on this communities basketball team. But it also focuses heavily on the lives of the players in and out of the game, and the difficulty of life in Alaska.
For the team to get to games, there is no easy way. They’re a remote community and sometimes to travel back and forth from games can take days. If there isn’t a flight then it’s a boat and that is even longer. Their families become the team, but that poses its own risks as well. Not everyone wants to play ball, they play ball because their dads played ball. And they want to follow in the footsteps of their fathers and their families. However, playing ball means they’re missing school. It’s impossible to stay atop of studies and play ball considering the distances they have to go to literally play the game.
Another issue they face of the course is the fishing industry. If they want to have a reliable source of income for themselves and their families then they have to fish, leading towards more missing of education. Which then piles on top of their already hard life of living in a remote town, they’re balancing school, money, the game and fishing. It’s a lot to take on especially at such a young age and this leads to some very unfortunate facts.
Alaskan Nets shines a light on the community tribe of Tsimshian. It also shed light on the difficult decisions that they have to go endure on a day to day basis. Whether that be playing basketball or focusing on their futures. Or fishing and balancing the hard reality of death and losing people too soon. It is a sobering look at life, the pressure we put on ourselves to make others proud and happy. It is also about the realization that not everything is as it is cracked up to be. Alaskan Nets may be about a single towns dream to make it to the championships on the surface. But the hardship and difficulty these players and the community live with on a daily basis goes so much deeper and more soulful than just a game of ball.