By Charles Hallman
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, but it’s one in five for Black men.
Women college basketball coaches and its players annually raise awareness of breast cancer by wearing pink colors. The “Coaches vs. Cancer” campaign features men’s head coaches wearing sneakers during games. However, this might be a first united show of support by Black coaches since the 1980s when Proposition 48 was first proposed and opponents protested it as a way to limit Black players from getting athletic scholarships.
Nearly 100 Black men’s basketball coaches are raising awareness about prostate cancer by wearing bow ties while coaching their games. The Black Coaches & Administrators (BCA) and the ON THE LINE prostate cancer campaign are co-sponsoring “Statement Week,” which began February 18 and runs through February 26.
Among the coaches participating are Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Mike Anderson (Arkansas), Tony Barbee (Auburn), Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Anthony Grant (Alabama), Frank Haith (Missouri), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Paul Hewitt (George Mason), Trent Johnson (LSU), Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee), Oliver Purnell (DePaul), Craig Robinson (Oregon State), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth) and John Thompson III (Georgetown).
Leading the way is U of M’s Tubby Smith, a prostate cancer survivor.
“When they came to me and asked to be involved with the ON THE LINE program, we were more than excited,” Smith told the MSR last week. “I am a cancer survivor myself, having just gone through a prostatectomy last April, so it is personal for me in this fight, and I have lost a sister to cancer as well.
“Being a college basketball coach and African American,” continued Smith, “I think that many of us understand how prostate cancer affects minorities, especially African American males, and how devastating it can be, and that it is one of the top killers of African American males.”
BCA Executive Director Floyd Keith says, “Our coaches are proud to wear the bow tie and make a statement for men’s health.” It is hoped that the bow-tie ritual by Black coaches will become an annual event.
“We need to make people aware that there are many ways to get screened [for prostate cancer],” concluded Smith. “I am one of the lucky ones. I am cancer-free. They caught it in time, and that is the key. If it is caught early enough, it will save your life.”
Closing a career
Kiera Buford played her last home game as a Minnesota Golden Gopher last week against Illinois. She is the only Black among thefour seniors honored at Senior Night at Williams Arena February 16 in the team’s final regular season home game.
The only city player on the squad, Buford (St. Paul Central) moved into the school’s top-10 scoring list earlier this season. The 5-11 guard also ranks fifth all-time in three-point field goals and 10th in free throws, blocks and steals, and also will finish in the top 10 for career assists.
Buford, who graduated in December with a degree in communication studies and is in her first semester of graduate school, “is becoming a very confident young woman who is going to be extremely successful no matter what she does. I think she has grown up a lot,” observed Minnesota Coach Pam Borton. “Her leadership skills and being a positive leader has been unbelievable. The impact she has been able to make in this community is going to take her really far after college.”
For more information on the ON THE LINE program, go to ontheline.com.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.