I'm sure that even those among you least interested in professional sports will now recognize the name of Donald Sterling. The long-tenured, and long-reviled, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team committed a landmark transgression in the annals of race relations. If you could possibly not know to what I refer, I suggest you Google the name, or ask someone on the street.
From our vantage on racial matters, we prefer to accentuate the positive, as in our cover story this week, "Speaking Their Language." If there is a connection between the Sterling affair and our story, it's basketball. As sports reporter Michael Wilbon commented, in the black community the National Basketball Association is nearly as revered an institution as the church. So it hurt when the achievement of black basketball stars, who make up 75% of the institution, was denigrated.
The protagonist of our report this week, Will Green, uses basketball to engage the interest of his charges at the gym in the easy-to-overlook Darbo-Worthington neighborhood on the east side. It's the "hook" that draws adolescent males into his sphere of influence. And it's also the lens that helps them focus on a role in the greater society. There can be no doubt that the sport has been the path for many black athletes to prominence, success and maturity.
This story is the latest contribution to our pages by Bob Jacobson. His day gig is communications manager for the nonprofit Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. His resume includes status as an emeritus member and cofounder of the klezmer band Yid Vicious. Klezmer -- you could consider it another activity for quelling rambunctious youth.