Thanksgiving, Traditions, Native Americans and Evolved Self Definitions


It’s that time of year again.  The heaviest travel day in the United States.  The time when family and friends gather to feast, mingle, catch up, argue and watch a little football. Since the expansion of social media, it’s also the time where we are reminded of the horrific tragedy that befell our original citizens, the Native Americans.  The memes are have been prepared with care, ready to remind America of just one of it’s original sins.

I get it.  As a matter of fact, I endorse the expressions of truth regarding the historically accurate facts of our nations history and hypocrisies.  Those that know me, know that I do that just about everyday.

But there is another side to this as well.  As a people, especially people who have been the abused, the tortured, the terrorized and murdered, those who have been placed in the under caste status; Those of us who have survived in spite of the fact that we are still in a battle for our lives; With our ingenuity and ability to adapt on the run, we have managed to turn what was originally a negative into our own divine positive.

I remember as a boy in school hearing that story about the pilgrims and the settlers.  I remember drawing turkeys by tracing the body and head around my spread apart hand.  Like every  other school kid, that part about the small pox blankets and slaughters were left out.  But you know what, growing up at MY house, we never talked about that crap anyway.  For my parents, grandparents, aunts and elders, it was about the fellowship around a meal that took several hours of hard work and dedication to perfect.  (Or at least try to perfect)

Listen, as a people, even as we come into new knowledge, we should also embrace our abilities to make lemonade out of lemons, sugar out of sh#!  And you know what, there is no need for us to apologize for it. One of my biggest realizations in life is that two things can be true at the exact same time.  Yes Thanksgiving as is being told to us traditionally is a farce.  One could compare it to the Nazi’s telling a false narrative of how they collaborated with Jews in Europe.  We should know that history.  Equally true, is that like many other things in life, we as a people have created our own narratives and definitions thereby turning a tragedy upon its head and making our empowering choices work for us.

I’m a social and political warrior.  Many of you are.  Even in war time, troops get leave, rest.  In order to fight the long game and not die of exhaustion, you must come away.  Traditions are neither good nor bad. They are the product of who and what we decide to make them to be.  Though I am mindful to thankful everyday, there is something good about much of our activities stopping, folk taking the time to slow down, be present and enjoy a few moments where we are all focusing on the same things.  I can do that and still fight for and stand with Standing Rock.

Bless You All~

Sports Stories of the Ridiculous, Sad, and Wierd


By now many have heard of the girls basketball team in Texas who outscored a lesser opponent 100-0.  The Covenant School, a private Christian school beat Dallas Academy like they were the, dare I say…. the  Philistines.   Later after refusing to offer an apology, the coach was fired.  I happen to think it’s a good fire considering the circumstances.

As a sportsman, I appreciate competitiveness and playing hard.  This isn’t the first time I have seen such a lop sided score.  I remember when my high school girls team beat another local team 105-10.  I don’t think you should tell kids to let up and not do their best either.  However, what is equally important is the way in which one competes. 

As a basketball official, I see a lot of blowouts.  Sometimes one team is just more advanced than another.  Some teams are more talented than others.  It takes about two minutes or less to figure out whats going to happen.  Pretty soon, the lead is so big that we won’t stop the clock on the whistles.  With that said, a smart coach who gets it will not allow the best players to continue to dominate and humiliate the other team by putting on a full court defensive press or continuing to shoot three pointers.   Sure he will let the stars start the game.  Perhaps by the time they break a sweat they lead by 25.  But then coach will take them out, put in the reserves and run a more conservative offense without a press.  In some tournaments there are no pressing rules after a team leads by a certain amount.  This is not necessarily the case in official high school play.  But this is where intelligence should have taken over. 

Instead of backing off, this jerk continues to have his team press and run fast breaks complete with three pointers.  I wonder once it got to be 76-0, did he think the other team had a chance to come back? 

When players are pros and getting a paycheck I got no problems with putting up big numbers.  It’s bad karma in my opinion to throw Hail Mary’s in the fourth quarter of a football game if your up by 35.  And MLB teams normally don’t steal bases past the 7th inning with a 5 plus run lead.  If they do rest assured somebody is going to get a 100mph fast ball in the ass at some point.  The players will police themselves.  But when its amateur, the coaches need to show respect by restraint.  He should have put his reserves in and if they still scored the same 100 by running a standard offense that did not call for three’s being hoisted like fireworks on the 4th of July, and they at least picked up the defense in the front court, then so be it.  I wouldn’t advocate telling his players not to score.  But there is a way to do everything.  And putting it to some kids who haven’t won a game in 4 years who also happen to have learning disabilities is not making his team better. 

I can tell you now that as an official, I would have stopped the game if the coach didn’t back the heck up.  And if I were the other coach?  Let’s just say I would have had a little something-something for him before that game was over. 


Meanwhile, in Kentucky a high school football coach has been charged with reckless homicide in the heat stroke death of one of his players.   Initially I’m not too sure how I come out on this.  The widow of former NFL player Korey Stringer just settled with the league after he died of the same thing a few years ago.  Heat stroke is no joke, and training football players is unlike any training in sport.  Traditionally, its not unusual at all for players to sweat and be worked into exhaustion during training camp situations.  It’s summertime and temperatures are generally at their highest levels.  Certainly guys like Lombardi, Bear Bryant, Bo Schembechler and the likes rode their players into oblivion they are revered for making tough men.  I am sure it’s challenging for a coach to know when he is pushing a player too hard or how to recognize when a kid, especially a young kid really needs a break or is not giving his best. 

Still I got to say that if it’s true that the player was not allowed to receive water on a hot and humid Kentucky day, that is a judgement that may cost the coach his freedom.  I will be keeping an eye on the case as I don’t want to assume much of anything before the facts come out.  Still, it’s pretty sad. 


I am biased when it comes to Joe Torre and I though he was a smooth operator when he led the Yankees to several World Series titles,  kept his cool within the media hot-bed capital of the world, while putting up with an owner who didn’t know when to shut up.  I though he was shafted by the Yankees having to leave for the Dodgers especially when he was not mentioned at all during the ceremonies on the last day at the old Yankee Stadium.  But this book deal where he supposedly talks about Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) being called A-Fraud by teammates, saying he was obsessed with Derek Jeter and that GM Brian Cashman was silent when he got run from NY is something I can’t wrap my brain around.  Torre was legendary for being professional and keeping team business in the clubhouse even in the midst of turmoil.  Just because he went to Los Angeles to manage, still he was the last guy I thought would go Hollywood and do a Phil Jackson tell all book.  I mean, where does that get him?  What does he get out of it?  I am sure he was disappointed with A-Rod’s performance or lack thereof especially in the playoffs.  Maybe he thought it cost him his job.  But damn, don’t hate too much.  Torre himself, be it successful with the Yankees, was horrible as manager of the Cardinals.  And he didn’t do great with the Mets and Braves either. 

Truth be told the Yankees took a chance on him in 96 and it worked out well for both parties.  They went to the playoffs each year, and won four World Series titles.  Torre got the benefit of managing several hall of fame players and he did a great job.  But he also got a lot of credit and a lot of money from The Boss. 

His Dodger team was just OK until Manny Ramirez made his way out west and put the entire city on his back.  My thing is this.. if you’re going to do that book, do it when you’re still with the Yankees not after you leave.  Now you just look like a bitter old man.  I guess vanity gets to the best of us.  I just thought Torre was above it.

Three The Hard Way: Area teams win State Titles in Missouri & Illinois











Congratulations to three local St. Louis Metropolitan football teams who won State Championships this past weekend.  First to my East. St. Louis Il, Flyers who beat Geneva 33-14 before a huge crowd at Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois, Champagne.  East Side got off to a slow start but quarterback Detchauz Wray was awesomely cool and rallied the troops in his first State final game.  I say first because he is only a junior.  Terry Hawthorne was his usual spectacular self scoring another touchdown and getting yet another interception.  He was clearly the team’s MVP as well as arguably the best player in the state.  Hawthorne plays on all three sides of the ball – offense, defense and special teams.  When he is not receiving a punt or a kickoff, he puts the ball himself often into the 50 yard range.  This guy is hardly ever off the field.  To put this young man’s contributions in perspective: in the playoffs alone he scored 12 touchdowns, seven on receptions and 4 on interceptions.  He’s had 7 interceptions in 5 playoff games.  Six of his touchdowns have been from 40 yards or longer.  He is a real play-maker. 

Though Hawthorne has to be noticed, we can’t overlook running back Courtney Molton who stands a good 5’7 if that.  The junior running back carried the load most of the year with sophomore Vinson Arterbridge hurt for half the season.  On any other team he would clearly be a star and his time to be recognized will come next year for sure.  The Flyers defense was also dominate by hitting hard consistently and keeping pressure on Geneva’s offensive attack. 

East St. Louis' Kraig Appleton makes the leaping catch over Geneva's Phil Birschbach for a touchdown in the second half.

Last but not least give it up for coach Darren Sunkett who is the only coach to win high school titles in Missouri and Illinois.  He coached a Riverview Gardens team led by the late Damien Nash and Christian Morton to a state championship as well.  Sunkett got a lot of hate early on in his tenure at East Side from many of the locals because he wasn’t an East St. Louis product.  Thankfully their stupidity didn’t make a difference and they can all eat their words.

Big ups to my Flyers who have bragging rights after beating 4 Chicago areas teams before winning another title.   

*Pictured Above – Terry Hawthorne clutching the championship trophy.  Below Kraig Appleton makes a leaping catch against Geneva for a touchdown.

Maurice Scott was everywhere and the little man played big for Hazelwood Central in their class 6A victory over Blue Springs South 25-20.  Scott caught the game winning 59 yard touchdown pass to seal the victory.  The Central defense also caused 5 turnovers which helped the cause.  Blue Springs is normally an efficient team that allow for few mistakes.  But the Hawks made it happen!











*Pictured: Maurice Scott runs in a score for Hazelwood Central

And finally, the game with the most exciting finish had to be the 5A final with Hazelwood East beating Raytown South on the final play of the game, the so called “Hail Mary” pass in the end zone from quarterback Eric Brown to receiver Tarrell Downing.   The East Spartans are in the same conference as Hazelwood Central mentioned above, but the enrollment numbers cause the schools to be slotted in different classes.  Also of note is the East coach Mike Jones.  Jones, (who is still considered the interim coach in his first season) helped the St. Louis Rams win a Super Bowl in 2000.  

Pictured: Tarrell Downing catches the winning score on the final play of the game for Hazelwood East

Congratulation to all three teams who are less than 30 miles apart. 


East Side in State Finals! Go Flyers!












The 12-1 East St. Louis Flyers will face off against an undefeated Geneva, Il team Saturday at the University of Illinois Champaign.  The Flyers have dismissed four different teams from the Chicago area to make it back to the “Promise Land.”  I’ll be in the house with my crew including Charlie Bubba!  Wish us well!


* Pictured – East St. Louis’ All American and University of Illinois bound receiver Terry Hawthorne