THE BLACK DISABLED SPORTS REPORTER

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Updated: December 26, 2015

 

THE BLACK DISABLED SPORTS REPORTER

Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter

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OAKLAND, CA.- The job of any reporter is to report the news, sports, or events as they see them. With the assistance of a pen, paper, video cam or cell phone, the disabled reporter completes his assignment in many different ways. The modern era has assisted the disabled with the invention of the computer voice mail, internet, cable television, and voice reconnection keyboards.

To accomplish the final report the disabled reporter might need assistance from friends, family, co-workers and the mechanical friend called the computer. This is very different from their non-disabled counterparts who often produce their stories without assistance.

The disabled writer has to prove him/herself beyond that of their non-disabled peers. When discussing sports for example, He/she has to prove that they have knowledge of the sport even-though maybe they never played the game or played a modified version of the game.

These talented reporters must prove:

1.) That they know the sport.

2.) That they are intelligent.

3.)  That they can write complete sentences.

4.) That they can do the job with limited disabled modification.

5.) That they are verbally fluent and well understood.

These five points are ongoing for the disabled reporter and are always a part of their lives.

For African American disabled men and women, there is yet another battle. That battle is to be accepted in the Black community and to be considered as equal.

The journey of this writer went through a long and winding road. At the age of 11, he wrote a weekly sports (one page) report for the Burlington City (James Fenimore Cooper) Disabled School’s newspaper called the Cooper Crier.  The experience was fun and exciting because the writer was able to be creative and write stories about the local high school football and basketball teams. The question remains, how much does an 11 year old know about the intricacies of the game of football and basketball?

These two young disabled men did their best to report the facts. These men used a mimeograph copying machine getting purple printing ink on their fingers and clothes every week, the hand cranked rolling printer. They also had to operate the staple gun to put the pages together. It took a week to write and finish one edition. Unlike today, we can use the computer and modern printer. Now mistakes can easily be fixed,  unlike 1964, when we had to retype the entire page.

SCHOOL

There was a detour from the sports world to attend what America calls “regular school”. This reporter attended grade school in Edgewater Park and high school in Burlington City. Then it was a four and half year college trip to the mid-west and SALUKI LAND, Carbondale, Illinois. Education was the equalizer in the disabled community. With a Liberal Arts degree in history, writing was not my strong suit. Struggling to write papers each semester seemed to be the norm. Research was and is today my strong suit in finding various subjects to complete an article. Give me a few hours and this writer will have the information to write any story.

FIRST WRITING JOB

The last two years of college and the first fifteen years in Northern California, this writer kept a bushel of half pages of notes in a shoebox about life. This became the foundation for a future book and a future sports writing job. The notes culminated into a book called “The Analects of a Black Disabled Man” in 2006. The book addressed disability, sports, and growing up as a Black, disabled, and male in the United States.

In 1996, publisher Frank Jones from Oakland, California wanted writers for his website Gibbs Magazine for the Bay Area.

Sports entered this reporter’s life again with the protest of the Washington Football Club (REDSKINS) and the creation of the Black Athletes Sports Network (BASN) in New York City in 1998.

BASN founder and owner, the late Roland Rogers, loved the article written about the Washington Football Club. He invited this reporter to write about disabled athletes and other athletic events.

Mr. Rogers wanted writers who knew sports but also knew the battle African American athletes experiences.

The first roadblock surfaced when contacting African American schools and African American broadcasters. Because of the speech impediment, they shyed away, but this writer persisted and kept pushing to get the stories told.

There was a thrill in calling and sending letters to African American schools (HBCU) Historically Black College Universities. It was also one of the biggest roadblocks to writing about HBCU schools. This writer’s calls were not returned and letters were not answered. In an attempt to get information on HBCU’s sports programs a phone call to a school in North Carolina was the low point in reporting. The young man who answered the phone stated they did not understand this reporter and hung up the phone. Having a speech impediment is a big challenge because communication is a large part of  reporting. This could have been a big roadblock and the conclusion of his short writing career, but this reporter found other ways to write articles on HBCU Schools.

As a reporter, a decision had to be made regarding soliciting assistance of others to communicate my wishes to these schools and coaches. The only HBCU institution to respond to my mother’s passionate letter written before the 2004 football season was the Prairie View A & M Panther football program. The Panthers sent letters and information but did not want to come on the air because the head football coach feared that he could not understand what this reporter was saying over the phone.

The highlight was getting the chance to ask questions to The Hall of Fame running back Mercury Morris of the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins. Mr. Morris understood every word this reporter spoke when he asked questions about the Washington Football Club name. That gave the reporter the incentive to continue.

Patience was and still is the key to this reporter’s communication with others.. The fellow co-workers at BASN have learned to ask this reporter to repeat what was spoken if they did not understand. This reporter has sat in on The Batchelor Pad and Soul Tree Radio in the Raw from time to time and has created his own weekly broadcast called (The GLC) The Gray Leopard Cove.

The Cove had many guest speakers like, Doreen Wade from New England Informer, Mike Glenn, SIU Southern Illinois University and professional basketball player, Tanya Free, and Reggie Howell Walston from WCLM 1450 am Richmond, Virginia, Amanda Blackhorse-Native American political activist, Leroy Moore, and Neil Hutton disabled political activist. Kathleen Wells- University of California-Berkeley Law Graduate from KCAA 1050 Loma Linda, California, Pat Freeman from WUFO 1080 Buffalo, New York.

We have discussed Kalli- The Filipino Martial Arts, surfing, rugby, scuba diving, and soccer. We have had shows on the disabled summer and winter games.

The disabled writer and broadcaster with a speech impediment have to speak slowly and clearly. That reporter might have to repeat important points to convey the information. Those old breathing exercises at James Fenimore Cooper School many years ago have helped this writer in broadcasting today.

In time and with perseverance most of these obstacles have been overcome to complete five hundred articles on www.blackathlete.com- Black Athletes Sports Network and five hundred shows on Blog Talk Radio- www.Blogtalkradio.com/norris19. This is evidence of this writers success.

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The articles and radio show opened many venues and eyes on the lives and loves of disabled Americans. One of the venues is the New England Informer Magazine where this writer has a guest sport in the January 2016 edition.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

Garynorrisgray@Wordpress.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Eric Newland

    December 30, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Gary, research is a wonderful thing – we share in common the love for discovery and the world of disability. I helped start a program in Westchester County, New York, called the Miracle League. There are more than 200 chartered self incentivized programs in the country. We enable children and young adults an opportunity to participate in “America’s Pastime” – there are no fees, the playing surface is a rubberized composite enabling wheel chairs, walkers, motorized chairs etc …please google Miracle League of Westchester to learn more about us. My current passion which is more than 25 years in the making – is the history of the Negro Leagues. I have traveled the country and have compiled the life stories of more than 35 men and a woman who either played (1920’s-1940’s) or were writers such as yourself (Sam Lacy) and historians. I’ve just completed a 20 minute trailer which helps tell America’s story. To date I have compiled more than 60 video interviews. I will be in Los Angeles the week of January 17th and then heading up to the Bay area to visit with family in Dublin, California. I’ve been trying for the past 8 months to interview Willie Mays, who played two years in the Negro Leagues for the Birmingham Black Barons. Have you ever done any research on the Negro Leagues. I know many Black Baseball players were from Oakland. Joe Morgan, Jimmy Rollins, Rickey Henderson, Curt Flood, Frank Robinson …Gary, also for your information I receive an all Black sports publication which is free and delivered to your email – that has a very strong point of view and stories focused upon the Black athlete and issues in sport. GOOGLE THE Shadow League. An impressive publication. Would love to hear more about your stories and interests and how you go about your daily life. You are a true inspiration. Inn closing – while in Pittsburgh at PNC park interviewing Jimmy Rollins, I met a woman in a wheel chair with disability who is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcast team and might be the only woman in professional sports who is employed by any franchise. Please be in touch. Happy Holidays and to a prosperous New Year with more peace on earth. Eric Newland

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