MLK Day---On this national holiday where we celebrate the work of one of the greatest leaders ever in our country, Martin Luther King, it might also be time to celebrate some of the great work that minorities are doing besides playing the game. And at the same time would love your thoughts on the subject of minorities in the sports, especially when it comes to the athletic administration, front office, media and even officiating. Are we doing a good job with race relations in sports, you tell me please?
I would be totally a knucklehead if I didn't start off with the three African-American gentlemen I work closely with nearly everyday at CSNNW.com and Comcast SportsNet. It is a privilege and honor for me to work with Richard Lucas, Chris B. Haynes and Jordan Kent. They truly should be looked at as role models, not even for being minorities, but for their work ethic and the way they show respect for this gentlemen who is writing this today. I am not complaining here, but being north of 60, sometimes you do not get treated with respect out in public. It is a fact of life that should not be a fact of life. I admire these guys so much for the respect they show me, that I am able to joke with them, but most important that they are so talented and set a great example for so many others.
Going on, one of my great friends in the basketball world is Dinari Foreman. He is African-American, one heck of a head basketball coach, but at a school that you would not associate as having lot of minority students, Lewis & Clark College, a member of the Northwest Conference, where you see very few minorities on the basketball court. But Dinari is not complaining. Instead he tells me everyday how thankful he is to be the head coach at his alma mater and how appreciative he is that he can not only coach basketball, but help shape the future lives of so many young men.
Not to be overlooked is the work of people who referee the game. For my money, minority official Tony Padilla is the best basketball referee in the Pac-12. And to see how far we really have come, Ed T. Rush who took over as director of men's basketball officiating for the Pac-12 this season, recently told me that Brenda Pantoja, who has already worked a men's D-1 college game this year and works in the NBA's D-League, is one of the best officials on the west coast, men or women and could work any college game on the D-1 level men's side.
In closing this segment, it is important to note that the number 1 team in NAIA Division 2 at present is Eastern Oregon, in the Eastern part of the state of Oregon where minorities are few and far between. The coach of Eastern Oregon is Isaac Williams, who just happens to be African-American and has been doing a terrific job both as an assistant and head coach at the school since 2004. He has excelled and everyone no matter what their color should be proud of what he has accomplished.
I personally do not claim to be an expert on race relations. Some of the people above I know, some I have never met. But I think it is important to talk about people that despite some obstacles have really done great, love what they do and are succeeding at places in the sports world you might least expect.
NOTE: I will be back with another bonus Crawford's Court tomorrow morning, which will contain Mac's Message, how brutal I was at picking games last week and some important history on the Final Four, when it comes to Northwest schools.