Big Chief story really isn't
Pity the poor members of the news media, particularly those in St. Louis, who are scrambling to come up with some new, interesting angle on the University of Illinois basketball team making the Final Four.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist came up with a passable contribution Wednesday with an article comparing the always natty Rick Pitino with Bruce Weber, supposedly a regular Joe who dresses like one. The columnist even interviews Weber's tailor at Delbert's in Arcola.
Hey, I'm not being critical. I understand what it's like to be a columnist or reporter in search of a story. I generally sympathetic to the problem.
But another P-D story fell a little short of the mark. It concerns the absence of Chief Illiniwek from St. Louis this weekend, suggesting the UI is trying to avoid some sort of controversy by keeping the Chief at home. From there, it goes into the usual back-and-forth racist image/honored symbol routine.
(This may come as a shock to some people, but Chief opponents are still morally outraged by his presence and consider those who aren't to be the worst sort of moral reprobates.)
The only problem with the story line is that the Chief never dances when the UI isn't the host team. The Final Four is a neutral-court contest. There is and should be no expectation for the Chief to perform at halftime of Saturday's semi-final games or, if the Illini make it that far, Monday's championship game.
Chief Illiniwek has performed in the past at Illinois games in St. Louis and Chicago, but only because the Illini were the host team in those contests. It makes no difference if the Louisville Cardinals are bringing their Cardinal or Michigan State is bringing its Spartan to roam the sidelines during the game. That's not what the Chief does.
The Post-Dispatch is comparing apples to oranges.
There's an old joke in journalism that goes, "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." At least it's supposed to be a joke.
Here's the link.