Playing for Keeps follows the challenges facing several African-American football players and their coach, Fitz Hill, at San Joe State University, as they struggle to overcome obstacles on the field and in the classroom. This timely and provocative documentary highlights the national debate around the social and financial costs and consequences of maintaining competitive football programs on college campuses. Fitz Hill, one of only four African-American head football coaches at Division 1-A schools and one of only two with a doctorate degree, came to San Jose State in 2001 pledging to combine football and academic success. Playing for Keeps traces his tenure as coach in his attempt to get players from inner city, high crime neighborhood to see football as not only a way out of troubled neighborhoods but as a vehicle for placing greater importance on classrooms achievement. Over the next four years, until being forced to step down in 2004, the coach and team are confronted by the lack of a winning record on the field as well as student and faculty apathy and even opposition toward the football program. In Playing for Keeps, football becomes more than just a game. The factors shaping victory and defeat reflect larger social realities confronting American society at the beginning of the 21st century.