Arvia: SSC makes right move on MLK day
PHIL ARVIA firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5949 January 13, 2012 10:44PM
Comcast SportsNet reporter Sarah Kustok interviews Greg DiMenna, Lemont, after his shooting and missing during "Shoot the Puck" challenge at the Blackhawks game Thursday. | Screengrab courtesy of YouTube
Updated: February 16, 2012 8:20AM
The wording was unfortunate, unintentional and, after a fashion, unavoidable.
In the email that crossed my desk Thursday, I missed it. There is evidence to suggest I’ve missed it in similar emails for the last several years.
But once a colleague brought it to my attention, I couldn’t un-see it.
South Suburban College dropped me a line advertising its Monday basketball event, the “Martin Luther King Basketball Shootout.”
As Dr. King was felled by an assassin’s bullet, I think we can all agree there are better choices for the name of an event being held on the national holiday in his honor. I think we can also all agree that each of us has made less than perfect choices on occasion.
My mother used to say, “Fix the mistake, not the blame.”
That’s what South Suburban did, rapidly. I spoke with SSC trustee and Thornton High School history teacher Terry Wells on Thursday afternoon. By the close of business, the name was changed and Wells sent me a statement, excerpted below:
“I must say that it was indeed a poor choice of words for the tournament. Obviously SSC meant no disrespect to the late great Civil Rights leader. As an African-American I must admit that I never paid any attention to the name and apparently neither did anyone else since this is the third year of the program and we have had no complaints. We will change the name of the tournament to the Dr. King Basketball Showcase. Our public relations and media departments have been instructed to change the name on our web site and marquee immediately. I would like to thank the SouthtownStar for bringing this issue to our attention.
“We have several programs on campus saluting the legacy of Dr. King, including a program sponsored by SSC, Thornton Township and School District 205. We would hope that your paper would join us as we celebrate the life of this American Hero.”
Speaking for the sports department, this paper will join at least part of the celebration. Four basketball games are slated: North Lawndale vs. Curie girls at 11 a.m., South Suburban’s women’s team vs. Joliet Junior College at 1 p.m., Marian Catholic vs. Kenwood boys at 3 p.m., and SSC/JJC men at 5 p.m.
The final game of the day should be outstanding. SSC enters the game with a 17-1 mark and a
No. 2 national ranking in NJCAA Division II, while JJC entered the weekend with an 11-5 mark.
The Bulldogs are gunning for their fourth Division II National Championship Tournament berth in five years, while JJC is a fixture in the Division III tourney.
The Wolves return just one player from last year’s 30-5 squad, which finished seventh in
NJCAA Division III, but also back is 6-foot-9 Lincoln-Way East product Jon Bartlett, who led the 2010 JJC squad to the Division III national title.
“People who come out are going to see six or seven kids who are going to be NCAA Division I performers either next year or the following year,” SSC coach John Pigatti said. “A plethora of talent will be out on the floor.”
Sarah smiles — and blushes
Greg DiMenna didn’t end up with Sarah Kustok’s digits, but he did get her attention Thursday when she interviewed him during a puck-shooting contest between periods of the Blackhawks game.
As their chat was winding down, the 26-year-old Lemont resident blurted out, “I love you, Sarah. You’re so pretty and beautiful. I love you.”
Kustok, the former Sandburg and DePaul basketball standout and current Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporter, was taken aback.
“Oh my,” she stammered. “I’m going to say thank you. Wow. It’s got me red and now I don’t know what to say.”
Later, Kustok continued to be a good sport, claiming under questioning from Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador, “It was my best shoot-the-puck of the year.”
DiMenna sure wasn’t complaining.
“She’s super smart and nice and knows sports — she’s awesome,” he said. “I had to do what every other guy in Chicago has wanted to do. ... I’m never going to get another opportunity to say that.”
“I’d be more than happy to go out with her if she wants,” DiMenna said. “I think she kind of owes me. It’s national now. We were on Yahoo Sports. We were on ESPN.”