By Charles Hallman
Seimone Augustus last week became the first Black female and the third Black athlete to be named the Minneapolis daily newspaper’s annual sportsperson of the year since the recognition began in 1998.
The paper’s selection of the Minnesota Lynx superstar simply cosigned what the MSR consistently said all throughout the team’s championship season — Augustus’ shoulders carried them. More importantly, the award hopefully finally quells any lingering doubts on her status as a franchise player.
Those of us who have followed her not only in Minnesota but also during her four-year All-American career at LSU fully knew this fact. Augustus has rightfully has earned first-name status in this town along with other transcendent Black superstars: Kirby (Puckett), Kevin (Garnett) and Torii (Hunter). Long should she stay.
However, of course, that same newspaper a day after announcing Augustus’ selection once again shamelessly showed its typical male-sports preference by listing the Lynx’s championship run second on its list of 2011’s top-10 sports stories.
Their top story? The Minnesota Twins losing 99 games.
New ‘collaboration’ includes more than football
Women’s sports will benefit from the new Big Ten — Pac-12 alliance, according to the two conference commissioners.
During a December 28 media conference call with Big Ten’s Jim Delany and Larry Scott of the Pac-12, both leaders when asked stressed that women’s sports and Olympic sports won’t get short-shrifted with the new “broad-based collaboration.”
However, we all know the real reason behind this alliance, which is expected to begin as early as the 2012-13 academic and sports year: football and television money. The Pac-12 is expected to launch its own television network this summer, and the Big Ten Network, now BTN, is in its fourth season of operation.
But Delany noted that football and men’s basketball gave the Big Ten “leverage…to create a platform” like BTN to show women’s and Olympic sports. “[It] is a big win for women’s and Olympic sports, which are tremendously underserved in the media coverage today,” said the Big Ten commissioner.
Now, with the new alliance, “We’ve now got the platforms [to] create a lot more exposure for women’s sports for both our conferences as a result,” Dalaney believes.
Scott added that the new Pac-12 television network “is committed to and will show an estimated 350 women’s sports events. “I think that this is the next step to broaden the quality competition, and both conferences will benefit by it,” he surmised.
Are the Wolves better this season?
After watching this season’s Minnesota Timberwolves’ opening game last week, I didn’t leave like Micky Dolenz — I’m not yet a believer.
“I really like a lot of the pieces we have,” admitted first-year Head Coach Rick Adelman afterwards. Two of these pieces he refers to are rookie power forward Derrick Williams (“He has a lot of ability at the four-spot,” said the coach) and guard J.J. Barea, who I really like and who might rank as one of the Wolves’ best free-agent signings — certainly at least since last century.
“Most notably we will see a difference with this team because they have an established a head coach who has been around,” said KFAN Basketball Expert Henry Lake, who also was present on opening night December 26. “I think the talent is a little bit better. I think the Wolves are going in the right direction.”
However, I see Minnesota still in need of a consistent two-guard and a proven athletic slasher to the basket. Also, I haven’t gone Lady Gaga over Ricky Rubio as most locals have to date.
Even with a shortened season, it is too soon to really judge how good these Wolves can be this season.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.