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Reflections on a year of tragic violence

One of my favorite TV programs this year is the hit show How to Get Away with Murder, the ABC drama series starring the talented Viola Davis. It’s incredible how art imitates life and life imitates art.

My social consciousness growing up as a child in Chicago during the turbulent ’60s and ’70s has been shaped by life and death: Medgar Evers, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Each one of them was murdered, and to this day I remember the effect it’s had on my level of trust in this country. Continue Reading →

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This Week in Prep

This week’s column brings you five pictures featuring three outstanding players and two former prep stars leading their college teams.

Check out the pics.  

 Cortez Tillman (shooting), a former Cretin- Derham Hall guard, averages 12.2 points for the University of St. Thomas.  

 

(l) Minneapolis North’s Jamil Jackson, guarding Minneapolis Washburn’s Warsame Guled, had 19 points and three dunks, leading the Polars to an 89-61 victory over the Millers. 

Former Minnehaha Academy standout Parker Hines (11) leads Augsburg College in scoring with 14.2 points per contest.  

(l) Roosevelt point guard Arione Farrar Jr. (in uniform), averaging 19.9 points per game, chats with Head Coach Robert Mestas. Continue Reading →

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Volleyball attracting more Blacks

This column continues the Only One series in which this reporter shares his experiences as the only African American on the scene. 

A rare sight indeed — more than a couple of female Black players playing big-time volleyball at the U of M Sports Pavilion. Texas (four) and North Carolina (five), who played Dec. 13 in the NCAA Minneapolis Regionals finals, combined for nearly 10 Black players. “A lot of African American girls are starting to play volleyball,” notes Texas Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Tonya Johnson. “Our kids get to show off their true athleticism in terms of how high they can jump, their speed and their quickness.”

 

Three such players — North Carolina opposite hitter Chaniel Nelson and Texas middle blockers Khat Bell and Chiaka Ogbogu — were among the seven-player All-Region Team selected by the media, including the MSR’s Only One. Continue Reading →

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Twins sign Torii Hunter, Ervin Santana

Who got the best of the MLB winter meetings? Time will tell. Several teams in Major League Baseball used the winter meetings to improve their teams. The Twins were no different, signing veteran outfielder Torii Hunter before the meetings to a one-year $10.5 million deal. The Twins signed veteran right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana to a four-year deal for $57 million. Santana was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA last year in the National League with the Atlanta Braves. Continue Reading →

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Black athletes weigh in on police violence

Recent events of police brutality, a problem that Blacks in this country have faced for decades, have pushed Black athletes out of their normal say-nothing postures. Several NBA players and two college teams last week donned “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups. Pro football players emerged from the locker room with their hands up. All this was in protest over what happened in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland, and across this country from sea to shining sea to thousands of Blacks who have had their lives snuffed out by police officers over the years. Is it about time? Continue Reading →

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Adams, Toney perform in Como DeLaSalle matchup

There were at least three NCAA Division I schools (Minnesota, Maryland and DePaul) in St. Paul last Friday night to see a nonconference girls’ basketball game between St. Paul Como Park and DeLaSalle. They were there to see junior guard Andrayah Adams, one of the state’s top prospects, who is averaging 31 points per game so far and closing in on the 2,000-point career mark. Adams won the battle with a game-high 32 points, but DeLaSalle won the war behind the efforts of Taylor Toney. Continue Reading →

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Who qualifies for Disparity Bowl 2014?

 

The University of Minnesota has the 11th-worst graduation gap between Black and White football players among the 76 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools playing in this year’s bowl games. According to a study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) using 2012-13 NCAA statistics released Monday, the Gophers, who are scheduled to play Missouri January 1 in the Citrus Bowl, have a 32 percent graduation gap — 52 percent for its Black players as opposed to 84 percent for its White players. Minnesota is one of 15 schools whose Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for Black football players is at least 30 percentage points lower than for White players. TIDES Director Dr. Richard Lapchick noted in his annual “Keeping Score When It Counts” report on bowl teams that the “substantial gap between White and African American football student-athletes remained large” despite a slight increase in the overall athlete GSR for the bowl-bound teams from a year ago from 72 percent in 2013 to 73 percent this year. Florida State’s 43 percentage gap between its Black players (57 percent) and its White players (100 percent) is the worst, although Blacks there nevertheless graduate at a higher rate than at the U of M.

“The gap between White and African American football student-athletes continues to be a major issue standing at 18 percent this year,” continues Lapchick. Continue Reading →

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One Black man’s path to an NFL executive suite

According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), there are nearly 30 high-ranking Black National Football League team executives: seven general managers and 22 vice-presidents. The MSR recently talked to one of them during an appearance at Oak Park Center in North Minneapolis. 

Kevin Warren’s original plans were to be in Minnesota for a year or so. “I helped [the present Minnesota Vikings ownership group] buy the team, and they asked me to come and work here,” admits Warren, who then was living and working in Phoenix. “But this is my 10th season in Minnesota and my 16th season in the NFL.”

It isn’t the first time Warren, the highest ranking Black team executive working on the business side of things in the NFL, reached a change-of-plans crossroad. The youngest of seven, Warren was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Continue Reading →

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Vikings beat Jets 30-24 overtime!

Yes, the Vikings are still battling to salvage the 2014 season for first-year Head Coach Mike Zimmer. His team made franchise history Sunday with a rare win over the New York Jets. Only once previously in the franchise’s history had the Vikings beaten the New York Jets. You had to go back to 1975, when Bud Grant’s Vikings beat the Jets 29-21. New York is now 2-8 all-time against the Vikings after Teddy Bridgewater hit Jarius Wright with an electrifying 87-yard game-winning touchdown pass. Continue Reading →

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Five outstanding prep athletes

This week’s column features an outstanding basketball prospect who’s quarterbacking his school’s football team to the Prep Bowl, a running back who did the same for his team, a quarterback who led his team to the state semifinals, four who led their team to an upset victory, and a former prep basketball star who shot the lights out in a recent collegiate contest.  

Here are the Fab Five:

1. Grantham Gillard 

Two years ago he was an up-and-coming sophomore guard teaming with his senior brother Garrison Gillard (now a sophomore member of the University of Minnesota-Duluth men’s team). Today he is poised to be among the state’s top players, but for now he’s focusing on leading Eden Prairie to a fourth consecutive large-school state football championship as the Eagle’s quarterback. The senior’s 13-yard touchdown run secured a 13-7 victory over Maple Grove last week to earn a spot in the Class 6A Prep Bowl against Totino Grace at TCF Bank Stadium. Continue Reading →

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