In this latest installment in our “Only One” series, we are in search of Black fans at college football games. This week the Only One’s quest takes him to one of the state’s longest football rivalries.
Macalester and Hamline are two Division III schools located on opposite ends of Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. They have one of the oldest rivalries in college football.
The two schools met last Saturday for the 116th time and played for the Paint Bucket trophy, which the host Scots won in convincing fashion.
The Only One again made the usual pre-game rounds. The Macalester tailgating scene is modest compared to larger programs, but the complexion of the folk there is no different — mainly White.
We did run into one Black man who told me that he barely counted more than 10 Black folk at Mac games last season. He admired my search for others that look like him.
We then found a few Black students, mainly from the visiting team, who spoke to the Only One at halftime. We asked if they would have been at last Saturday’s game if they didn’t have any friends on the Hamline football team.
“It’s fun to be in the crowd,” said Jordan Lawson, a first-year Hamline student, who admitted he was there to support his friends on the team. Lawson also suggested that studying, even on a Saturday night, or work or “other priorities” may have kept other Black students from the game.
Bacari Jackson, in his third year, told us, “I know a lot of people on the team. It’s a fun environment to be at the game.”
“I know some of the guys,” added Aaisha Abdullahi, a second-year Hamline student. She said she would have been there otherwise “for the love of the game.”
Rebecca Neal, asked if she would have been there if she didn’t have to be — she is Hamline’s faculty football rep — said, “I would, to support the students and scholar-athletes.”
There also were some Black alumni present at last Saturday’s game.
“I am an alumnus from Macalester, 1974 to 1978,” said Charles Ellis proudly. “I played football every year.”
Stan Davis, who also once played for Macalester, blames the little diversity at the school as one reason for not seeing many Black Mac students at the game, something Ellis concurred with.
“These schools aren’t heavily populated with Black people,” stated Jackson of both Hamline and Macalester.
We didn’t find any Black Macalester students, but sophomore safety Kiante Miles quickly pointed out that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in Scots football. He is one of four Black players on this season’s squad.
“You didn’t see them? They told me they were coming,” said Miles after his turn ringing the victory bell in the post-game celebration on the field. “We have a great Black community that comes together. We are always there for each other.”
Two games down, two to go.
The ‘Mindy Factor’ redux
Last Saturday was our first time in the Macalester press box since the time we were totally snubbed, which then prompted me to leave before the game. This time around, some White guy before the Pipers-Scots game decided my sitting there got in his way as he stuck his behind near my face while he chatted with persons sitting below my row.
When asked to move, the man’s response was not an apology but rather a flippant remark that he would be gone in a minute. It was several minutes before that occurred.
Again, the “Mindy (Kaling) factor,” named after her “invisible” commercial, was in full bloom again last weekend in the Mac press box. For those who may have missed it, Kaling’s Super Bowl XLIX commercial portrayed her as assuming she was actually invisible after having been treated as such by a cab driver.
Next week: The Only One goes to the Gophers’ second home game of the season.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.