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Monday, November 3, 2008

U. of I. homecoming under racial divide

African-American students at some schools organize their own festivities, say they feel unwelcome by mainstream

African-American Homecoming

SIU's Iota Phi Theta fraternity performs during African-American Homecoming at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in October. Some black students at U. of I. say they donÂ’t feel welcome in the traditional homecoming. (Tribune photo by Candice C. Cusic / October 11, 2008)


URBANA—The homecoming football game had just ended, and students clad in orange T-shirts were swarming the quad in search of post-tailgating festivities, but the nearly 1,700 African-American students packed in a nearby auditorium at the Downstate campus barely noticed.

They were engrossed in a separate African-American Homecoming—complete with its own pageant, fashion show, and step performance—that has stirred controversy and highlighted social segregation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

With pep rallies and parades, homecomings are designed to unify students and alumni in school spirit. But some black students at the University of Illinois and elsewhere say they do not feel welcome in their school's traditional homecoming activities, nor in the broader social scene on campus—a result, they say, of racial tension and clashing tastes and backgrounds.

There has long been a separate African-American homecoming pageant at Ohio State University. For the second year, the Black Student Union at the University of Minnesota planned its own homecoming events, which took place during the weekend.

"The university has taken steps to recruit us, but that doesn't mean that we're socially welcome," said sophomore Ashley Williams, who helped organize African-American Homecoming at the U. of I. "It's nice to go to events geared specifically at African-American students."

Despite the administration's diversity efforts, racial tension persists at the university, students and administrators say. Last spring, controversy erupted when members of predominantly white fraternities and sororities dressed in costumes that portrayed stereotypes of Latinos and blacks.

And because the student body is only 7 percent African-American, many black students say they simply don't feel part of the mainstream. African-American Homecoming, they say, offers them a chance to celebrate their culture and presence on campus.

But some white students complain that separate homecomings foster more racial divisions. The complaints have swirled on the Web site of the student newspaper and in conversations on campus. For the first time, organizers are contemplating removing African-American from the title.

Many African-American-named events started decades ago when black students were not invited to participate in the homecoming courts of predominantly white universities.

"For a long time, African-Americans were not encouraged or invited to participate in homecoming," said Clarence Shelley, special assistant to the chancellor, who was hired by the University of Illinois in 1968 to recruit low-income minority students. "Today, African-American Homecoming is still important. . . . African-American, Latino, Asian and Native-American students have found that it's more useful to make their own activities that are fun for them and to worry less about integrating activities."

Step shows, in which performers stomp, clap and shout in unison, have long been an African-American tradition. The one during homecoming in mid-October drew participants from other schools and packed the auditorium. "You guys excited?" shouted the host, a charismatic young man with a shaved head, who took the stage.

The audience roared.

Chavia Jackson, a junior in the crowd, said she has had a difficult time adjusting to the university coming from a predominantly black high school in Chicago. She is the only black student in some of her classes.

The insensitive costumes worn by white students last year were an example of why she doesn't feel comfortable in the mainstream social scene, she said.

"There aren't a lot of African-American parties here," Jackson said. "This is our time to find companions and let loose."

Timotheus Gordon Jr., a junior at the University of Minnesota, helped launch homecoming events through the Black Student Union last year after finding the universitywide homecoming events, such as a lip-sync contest and square dancing, unappealing and the broader campus socially segregated. Last year, there was a step show and dance party with hip-hop and R&B. This year, in addition to the dance, the Black Student Union helped organize a "Boondocks" marathon, among other events.

"People of color are included on paper here, but most of us feel like we're not part of the broader university experience," Gordon said. "We're creating an alternative to mainstream homecoming."

But some white students see no point in creating such an alternative. The effect, they say, is more separation.

"People say that it's exclusive and wonder what the purpose is," said senior Paul Schmitt, who used to question the event but has come to see its appeal.

As he walked from the football game by the auditorium, Jason Sandberg challenged the need for the step show and other African-American homecoming events.

"It doesn't make sense," Sandberg said. "I don't see us being racist. Not at all."

He paused and added: "Maybe here and there. You can't stop people from being racist all the time."

Anthony Lising Antonio, an assistant professor of education at Stanford University who has studied the social patterns of college students, said student organizations identified with a certain race can obscure the growing number of cross-racial friendships on campuses.

Black students self-segregate more than other minority groups, he said, because of their history of being excluded and their persistently small numbers.

But, he added, at predominantly white colleges, whites self-segregate more than anyone else.

"White students are still more likely to have all white friends," Antonio said. "We just don't tend to call that self segregation. We call that normal."

Organizers of African-American Homecoming at the U. of I. say students from all racial backgrounds have been welcome in years past. Dropping African-American from the titles, they say, would make them that much more welcoming.

"We can be more inclusive and diverse even if the campus hasn't always been that way for us," Williams said.

mtwohey@tribune.com

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Grossman comes off bench to help Bears beat Lions

By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer

Rex Grossman dived into the end zone, then ran to the side and spiked the ball. He had something to celebrate and the Chicago Bears had reason to exhale.

Grossman came off the bench to replace injured quarterback Kyle Orton and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:36 left, helping the Bears rally from a 10-point deficit for a 27-23 victory over the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday.

“I always thought odds are I was going to play a little bit, so we’ll see what happens,” said Grossman, the former starter who lost his job in the preseason. “I never figured that I wouldn

Matt Forte had 126 yards rushing for the Bears, who lost Orton to a right ankle injury and safety Mike Brown to a calf problem late in the first half. They didn’t lose the game, though.

They can thank Grossman and Forte, who ran for 40 of Chicago’s 54 yards on the go-ahead drive. His 19-yard dash put the ball on the 1 and Jason McKie got it back there with a 5-yarder after an illegal procedure penalty, setting up Grossman’s 1-yard plunge that put Chicago ahead 27-23.

“That was a fun play, I guess,” Grossman said.

Did he feel any personal satisfaction?

“No. It was team satisfaction all the way,” Grossman said.

It was also a big relief for the Bears, who moved ahead of Green Bay to take sole possession of the NFC North lead.

Lance Briggs forced and recovered a fumble by Detroit’s Michael Gaines at the Chicago 44 with 2:17 left, but the Lions got the ball back and drove to the Chicago 32. The Bears (5-3) then broke up a pass intended for Calvin Johnson in the end zone on the final play, and Detroit’s search for a win continued.

After building a 23-13 halftime lead, the Lions (0-8) were in good position for their first victory since they beat Kansas City on Dec. 23. Instead, they’re now the lone winless team.

While Daunte Culpepper agreed to a contract with Detroit, Dan Orlovsky made a case to keep his job after a brutal start. He was 28-of-47 for 292 yards and two touchdowns but threw two interceptions. Brown picked him off on the opening drive, leading to a field goal by Robbie Gould, and he tripped while dropping back to pass on the next possession. That resulted in an 11-yard loss, but things got better from there even though Craig Steltz intercepted a pass intended for Johnson at the goal line early in the fourth quarter.

“I’m a confident player and I have a confidence with the guys I’m out there with,” Orlovsky said. “I try to stay even keel. I wasn’t too high, wasn’t too low. I knew they were going to make a little run. They’re a good football team, but in the end I didn’t do enough.”

Grossman was 9-of-19 passing for 58 yards in a shaky performance that drew boos from the crowd.

His 6-yard TD pass to Rashied Davis midway through the third quarter pulled Chicago to 23-20, but it was clear why the Bears gave the job to Orton.

Passes by Grossman got deflected, and he was picked off by Dewayne White after Steltz’s interception.

Still, the Bears won despite some scary moments. Meanwhile, the Lions lost another close game after dropping the previous three by eight points or fewer.

Jason Hanson had just kicked a 52-yard field goal to extend Detroit’s lead to 10 with 1:05 left in the first half when Brown, who has a long history of injuries, walked to the locker room with a calf problem. Orton was taken from the field on a cart moments later, following a rollout to his right. He got hit by Cory Redding, and White fell on Orton as he was hitting the turf.

Orton finished 8-of-14 passing for 108 yards. He also had a 5-yard touchdown run.

The Bears beat the Lions 34-7 at Ford Field last month, and it looked as though more of the same was in store as Chicago grabbed an early 10-0 lead. But the momentum shifted quickly, with Johnson’s 17-yard touchdown catch giving Detroit a 13-10 edge early in the second quarter.

Chicago had starting cornerbacks Nathan Vasher (wrist) and Charles Tillman (shoulder) back from injuries but had trouble stopping the Lions in the first half. Then, the Bears shut them down.

“I think our gut was checked and we came through in the end,” Tillman said.

Notes

The Lions’ 23 points through the first two quarters were a season high for one half. … Brown’s interception was his first since last year’s opener at San Diego, when he tore an anterior-cruciate ligament. … LT Chris Williams, the 14th pick in the draft, played on special teams after being out the first seven games with a back injury.

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Newport's Wedge is still a sandy hook

The Wedge - body surfer
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
A body surfer takes off on one of the huge waves at the Wedge in Newport Beach, off the rocky jetty at the tip of Balboa Peninsula.
The art of bodysurfing -- less glamorous than surfing and tough to master -- lives on at the legendary, and dangerous, break. A new generation of daredevils is joining old-timers in the water.
By Susannah Rosenblatt

With the lifeguard tower boarded up, the sand mostly empty and the waves fizzling into foam, another bodysurfing season at the Wedge has drawn to a close. The daredevils who brave the wild waves at the legendary Newport Beach break are shelving their fins until next spring.

The die-hards -- guys whose concussions, fractured vertebrae and broken bones are testament to their devotion to the Wedge -- have mellowed with age. The waves -- which ricochet off the rocky jetty at the tip of Balboa Peninsula, smashing together in white-frosted peaks that can tower 20 feet -- have not. The Wedge chews up novices, flinging them onto the hard berm of sand or sucking them back into the churning surf.


The bodysurfing fraternity that held tanning tournaments and packed party houses during the Wedge's rowdy 1980s heyday has morphed into middle-aged dads. Fights used to break out among dudes angling for waves. Now, mentoring is more likely as newcomers learn to navigate that wall of water from the old hands who still can't get enough.

With a younger generation surfacing once again at the Wedge, the art of bodysurfing -- less glamorous than surfing and tough to master -- lives on.

"It is a dwindling thing -- there aren't the number of active bodysurfers that there were," said Tom "Cashbox" Kennedy, 44, who's been riding the Wedge for more than two decades. "With this new influx of fresh air, with these younger kids coming, it's like 'Wow, good, we're not going to die on the vine.' "

The Wedge crew, who call themselves the Wedge Preservation Society, successfully petitioned the city of Newport Beach to ban boards -- particularly the growing legions of bodyboarders -- at their prized spot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May through October. Thus a landmark, and bodysurfing preserve, was born.

"Most people grow up, mature and leave the place," said Fred Simpson, 70, one of the Wedge patriarchs, who has spent nearly 40 years in the surf here. He also helped create Viper fins, standard equipment on the feet of many Wedge regulars. Of the Wedge crew, Simpson says, "Like me, they never matured."

Juggling kids and mortgages, the most devoted have bought houses close to the Wedge or created work schedules flexible enough that they can slip into a pair of fins on a long lunch break.

And there's no denying that it's the older guys -- the ones with the battle scars and the war stories -- who are still the best.

"The old guys rip," said Sean Starky, a bearded, long-haired 22-year-old. "They still kill it."

"The best guys are like dolphins on the waves," said Ron Romanosky, a longtime bodysurfer, kneeboarder, photographer and board maker.

Bodysurfing, which requires fins, nerve and perfect timing, never hit the commercial mainstream like surfing. The sport, which some bodysurfers consider an art form, has remained pure while skirting the pop-culture radar. That, and the practice required to become skilled, have thinned out the ranks frequenting the Wedge.

But some have noticed a resurgence.

"It seems like there's a whole new group there getting stoked on it," said Kevin "Mel" Thoman, 51, a Wedge veteran and the scene's de facto social coordinator (he has the tattoos to prove it).

"It's infectious; you don't really want to stop," said Ben Frazier, 18, who's been bodysurfing since the beginning of high school.

As long as the young guys know their place in the pecking order and show skill, the crew at the kinder, gentler Wedge is happy to show them the ropes.

"I love to see these guys charging these big waves," Kennedy said. "It's almost like the way I used to feel when I was their age. There's some sort of fire in the belly you need."

Simpson has seen generation after generation come and go at the Wedge. But though the old crew is happy to see newcomers keeping their passion alive, there are no plans to hang up their fins.

"We'll have a new crop," Thoman said, "and I'll be down there in a wheelchair."

Rosenblatt is a Times staff writer.

susannah.rosenblatt

@latimes.com

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Source: Iverson traded to Detroit

By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports

The Denver Nuggets have traded All-Star guard Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess, a league executive with knowledge of the talks said.

Pistons center Cheick Samb also will go to Denver to make the salaries match in the trade.

Billups helped guide the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals during each of his previous six seasons in Detroit. He grew up in Denver and played 58 games for the Nuggets over two seasons from 1998-2000.

McDyess has had two previous stints with the Nuggets, and he began his career with them in 1995.

Iverson was traded to Denver in December 2006 but was not able to help Carmelo Anthony lift the Nuggets out of the first round of the playoffs in his two seasons there.

The trade gives the Pistons salary-cap flexibility at the end of the season. Iverson’s contract, which pays him $21.9 million this season, expires in July.

Billups is owed $36.3 million over the next three seasons and has an additional $14.2 million team option for 2011-12. McDyess will make $6.8 million each of the next two seasons.

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Phillies, 2 million fans express heartfelt joy at World Series celebration


THEY EACH had approximately 1 minute to address the crowd of 30,000-plus that filled Citizens Bank Park to celebrate the Phillies' first World Series title since 1980, 1 minute to put the entire season in perspective.

Brett Myers invoked Lou Gehrig.

Jamie Moyer invoked Martin Luther King Jr.

Chase Utley quoted everybody else in the city of Philadelphia.

"World champions," the second baseman said, his voice booming over both the stadium loudspeakers and live television and radio. "World f------ champions!"

And with that, the ballpark exploded.

It was billed as a day for a city to celebrate its champions, but it turned into a day for the champions to celebrate their city. As a teeming mass of red-clad fans lined Broad Street 10, 20, 30 deep - the city's initial estimate put the crowd at 2 million - the Phillies found themselves overwhelmed.

"These fans here, these people - I've absolutely been amazed, really," said manager Charlie Manuel, decked out in a black, pin-striped suit. "Totally unreal. I can't even explain it to you."

It started around 11 a.m. with officials from Budweiser hoisting Pat Burrell's bulldog, Elvis, onto the Clydesdales-drawn carriage that would later carry the 9-year veteran and his wife at the front of the parade.

Burrell, dressed in black with his hair slicked back, spent the next hour holed up in a SEPTA bus, chatting with police officers as fans surrounded it hoping to catch a glimpse of the longest-tenured Phillie.

The procession was supposed to last 90 minutes, but by the time the caravan rolled into Lincoln Financial Field for its next-to-last stop, close to 3 1/2 hours had elapsed.

"The parade was by far the most impressive thing I've ever been a part of," Utley said. "I heard a lot about it, I heard how much fun it was going to be, how many people were going to show up, but I never expected that."

As it turned onto Broad Street, toilet paper and ticker tape fluttered as William Penn hovered atop City Hall against a solid blue sky. They chanted for Charlie at South Street and Cole Hamels at Christian.

As Burrell passed through the intersection at Federal, the chorus went "Please Sign Pat! Please Sign Pat!"

Near Jackson, a kid with a Phillies T-shirt and a backward hat spread himself across the branches of a tree, a modern-day Zacchaeus pounding his chest while making eye contact with Brad Lidge and Scott Eyre.

They sat on the statue of Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi at Oregon and on the foundations of the overpass at I-76 farther south.

All of it made for a fitting end to a season that started exactly 7 months ago.

"We're just so happy in the moment," Hamels said. "Right now, this is just a roller coaster, and we are going to have to ride it all the way to the end."

Once inside Citizens Bank Park, the talk centered on both the fans and the desire to add a couple of more banners to the giant "2008" that was unfurled in centerfield.

Myers paraphrased Gehrig's famous speech at Yankee Stadium, saying, "Today, I am the luckiest man in the world."

The Jacksonville, Fla., native thanked the fans for standing by him during the trials and tribulations of his season, which saw him emerge from a 3-week exile in the minor leagues to go 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA after the All-Star break.

"This city, I consider it home," Myers said. "You guys have won my heart."

Where they go from here remains to be seen.

In fact, not even an hour after the end of the ceremony, the Phillies announced they would not pick up the club options for outfielder So Taguchi and reliever Tom Gordon.

While neither move came as a surprise - Taguchi batted .220 during the regular season and did not get an at-bat during the World Series; Gordon will spend the offseason rehabbing from elbow surgery - it was a reminder that the 2009 Phillies will be a different team.

Burrell, whose seventh-inning double in the final game of the World Series set up the Phillies' winning run, will be a free agent after this season. He was unavailable to talk to reporters after the parade, but has said in the past he would like to return.

Moyer, who spoke of a dream he had about winning the World Series, is also a free agent. After the festivities, the Souderton native, who attended the 1980 victory parade as a fan, said he had a good feeling that he would return to the Phillies.

"I hope I am back here next year," said Moyer, who went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA during the regular season and allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in the Phillies' 5-4 win over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series. "And I sense there is a good feeling I may come back here. I have not talked to the club at all, but we'll see what happens."

For one final day, though, the focus was on the present.

Several players spoke of their desire to repeat.

Shane Victorino: "This is only one of many."

Hamels: "There's only one thing I want to do: go down that Broad Street parade again, and again, and again."

Nobody, however, summed it up better than Utley.

"Chase's comment caught everybody by surprise," Moyer said. "But you know what? It is pretty awesome. I'll leave it at that."

World champions.

World f------ champions. *

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