Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘inner city

Snoop Dogg expands football league, his coolness to Chicago

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Snoop Dogg — is there nothing he can do wrong? (Or at least not get away with?)

Cal Ripken Jr. sold his name to an existing baseball league and has done plenty to promote it, but the rapper-Katy Perry sidekick has built a successful youth football league from the ground up, and has done so in the inner city, where most leagues usually go to die.

Now Chicago kids are going to learn what it’s like to play in a Snooper Bowl. He came to Chicago on July 23 for a football clinic as a precursor to expanding his Snoop Youth Football League to the city. The low-cost league will be geared toward kids in public housing in a city where the violent crime rate is double that of New York or the birthplace of the Snoop league, Los Angeles. From NBC Chicago:

“I’m bringing football out here so they can take their energy, their anger and their attitude and put it in the right source of environment, which is the football field,” he said. …

Snoop Dogg, a former high school quarterback, started the program in 2005 with a $1 million investment. He’s coached his son’s youth and high school football teams.

The league, which will offer a lower cost to participate, is still looking for funding.  But the rapper said recent violence in the city shows how much Chicago kids need alternatives like his league.

“I just feel like Chicago needs me right now.  And I need Chicago,” he said.

In an interview with Time Out Chicago, Snoop Dogg said he started an assistant coach for his son, became his head coach, and decided to start his own league because he didn’t like all he saw with organized football, particularly expenses that froze out those from poorer neighborhoods. He also said a league like his might have prevented him from his long path of trouble, though on the other hand without it he wouldn’t have had the career and the money to fund a league keeping other kids out of trouble.

[youtubevid id=”u1Nuy6ljAN8″]

Snoop Youth Football teaches kids to go 1-8-7 on tha undercover cop only in their minds. However, a safety can go 1-8-7 on a receiver across the middle. (NSFW lyrics)

Snoop Dogg just received a VH1 Do Something award for his football league. He also should receive some sort of award for trying to decrease football head injuries by getting his kids state-of-the-art helmets and training them on avoiding head injuries, which is a hell of a lot more than just about anyone else inside the sport is doing. So if the money he gets for slumming on “California Gurls” is going toward this, then who’s to care if he hooks up with Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus later? If it’s Snoop, it must be worthwhile.

Written by rkcookjr

July 24, 2010 at 12:26 am

Race and baseball: the gravity-defying Little League dynasty of Jackie Robinson West

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If the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago makes it through the upcoming Great Lakes Region finals to the Little League World Series, it’s going to be the biggest story out of South Williamsport, Pa. Much bigger than the team’s previous LLWS appearance in 1983.

That’s because Jackie Robinson West is a team, and a league, comprised of a certain kind of person you don’t see in the major leagues as much as you used to. Look at the picture below and see if you can guess what kind of person that is.


In 1983, African-American representation was off its peak of the near 30 percent in the late 1970s, but it was still a lot higher than the 8.2 percent rate in 2007, the lowest since 1959, when Pumpsie Green’s debut with the Boston Red Sox integrated every major-league team.

That rate is up above 10 percent now, but baseball is in full throttle pushing programs to fight the decline of African-American representation. It has an Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., to give top inner-city players travel-ball-type exposure, runs an RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program to encourage urban kids to play ball and presents an annual Civil Rights Game (Chicago White Sox vs. Cincinnati was this year’s), all in an attempt to make the sport more relevant to a community that once embraced the sport so tightly, so much so that Jackie Robinson intergrating the majors in 1947 is as much or more a civil rights touchstone as an historic baseball event.

One place where inner city baseball has never died, and where these MLB programs aren’t necessary, is the Jackie Robinson West league, headquartered on the south side of Chicago. Founded by Joseph Haley in 1971, the league boasts about 500 players, ages 8-16. Its 11- and 12-year-olds (the pool for the Little League World Series) has been Illinois state champions two years running. The league has its own stadium. It alumni include major leaguers such as Emil Brown, Marcel Wynne and the late Kirby Puckett. It gets high-ranking guests at its annual parade.


Such as U.S. Senators/future presidents.

Theories abound as to why the decline in black players: more sport options, lack of fathers’ influence in largely single-parent communities, lack of money, and from Gary Sheffield, Latinos (whose representation rates have gone up at the same rate blacks’ have gone down) being “easier to control” than black players such as himself.

So how does the Jackie Robinson West league do it? I’ve made contact with Bill Haley, son of the league’s founder (who died at age 71 in 2005), to ask that very question. For instance, Haley, in an email to me, mentioned he has “some opinions on why [MLB inner-city baseball] initiatives have limited success and impact.” We’re going to try to talk early this week, before Jackie Robinson West opens Great Lakes Region play against Bartholomew County (Ind.) in Indianapolis. When we do, I’ll let you know the Jackie Robinson West secret.

Written by rkcookjr

August 2, 2009 at 11:08 am