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When the play opens, Cory is being actively recruited for a college football scholarship. Troy feels that he is spending too much time at practice and ignoring his other responsibilities, because of his own experiences he believes sports to be a waste of Cory's time.
Cory represents all the possibilities his father never had (Troy's carrer in baseball was limited because he was black), but he also represents Troy's unmet dreams. Troy doesn't want his son hauling garbage for a living, and yet he's also unwilling to let his son attempt to achieve his dream. Troy is afraid that the world of white-dominated sports will only break Cory's heart, and Cory believes he can beat the odds.