By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
At One Time, The East-West Game Was THE College All Star Game To Watch
“The East West Shrine Game has never been “just another football game. “The Shrine Game is the Premier All-Star Game in America, and has a long history of distinguished players and coaches in the Game.
But that’s not what makes it “Football’s Finest Hour.” What makes the Shrine Game so special is its true purpose – helping to support Shriners Hospitals for Children. Every year since 1925, the Shrine Game has been played to raise money and to help make the public aware of the expert orthopedic and burn care available, at NO cost, at all 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children.” If those above paragraphs don’t get you, maybe that’s because you never really thought about what the East-West game was or still is to some college football fans. At one time, before the Hula Bowl became the hottest ticket in college football, there were two college football all-star games that allowed the NFL to select some of the brightest prospects in the country. The first game was the Blue/Gray game and the second one was the beloved Shrine East-West game. It could easily be argued that this game, the Shrine, was the preeminent game for college football players after their bowl season and college careers came to an end.
Many may say that this game doesn’t produce NFL draftees and that’s not the case. If you click on the available link, http://shrinegame.com/draft_results_2004.php#west, you can see the East and West players who got drafted in 2004 that played in that particular game. And if you take the time to really look at that website, you will find out that this game has had some serious heavy hitters come through over the years including a former President of the United States.
However, as much as this game is a football game, what it is really about is children and that is something that is near and dear to my heart. What the Shriners do is immeasurable in my eyes because for them to be able to have a series of hospitals that can provide world-class services to children in need is something that we all should be proud of. To me it is just an honor to even be able to cover this game for a wire service this weekend and to also be able to say that I witnessed one of college football’s greatest games.
This game may not be as illustrious as it once was but that’s fine by this college fan. If this game continues to help kids who are need of the services of a Shrine hospital, and these 22 facilities are beneficiaries of the generosity that the public has bestowed upon this game by purchasing tickets, then I think this game goes beyond what the Hula Bowl has become. Let’s hope that the East-West Shrine game is around for another 180 years to come.
THE DISPLEASURE OF COLD PIZZA ON MLK DAY While finishing up the points on the East-West game, another thought came into my mind and that was what I saw while visiting Richmond, Virginia. I do not normally watch ESPN’s “Cold Pizza”. To be honest, I’m not really enamored with the morning show and the only time I watch is if something of interest is on the set. Yet what really irked me on the national observance day of Martin Luther King’s birthday was the fact that they decided to have a few segments carved out for a panel of African Americans to discuss various issues that definitely were for those segments only.
Let me just say that while many may think that that particular day was a prime time for such a ‘show’, it still haunts me that nobody in the broadcasting business has ever seen the viability of actually having minorities represent themselves on mainstay programs. I haven’t forgotten the roundtable discussion that was on ESPN one February about two years ago. In the piece entitled, “Shame On ESPN”, the piece I wrote showed up on this website on Feb. 12, 2003. (Editor’s note: article can be found at http://thebwp.com/wire/DA.cfm?ArticleID=1173.) In my article, I asked the question that if that particular show, “Season of Change”, were so important, why did the network air it so early/late in the day. Well the same can be said about the Monday, Jan. 16th edition of “Pizza” that had four young African Americans on it including ESPN’s Chris Broussard. If the network thought that the views of this panel were so important, how come they didn’t make it a special show, like “Change” but yet air it in between the HBCU games they were showing?
And speaking of the HBCU programming? Why was it so important to show HBCU schools on that particular day? As much as we can laud the network for coming up with the “U” (ESPN U), it still befuddles me why many figure that historically black colleges and universities cannot be a part of ‘normal’ programming. I’ll even go as far as to say it would be really nice if CSTV and/or ESPN partnered with the likes of a TV One and offer the African American audience quality sports programming that is directly geared for them. After all, if we are going to take one day and put NC A&T on the worldwide leader, shouldn’t there be some sort of way to at least port such programming to many in the Black community who may want it? Just a couple of thoughts considering that I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic in about 28 days or so.