Tag Archives: sports

LOS ANGELES: Cal Tech baseball wins!!!!!

Cal Tech’s baseball team won a game on Saturday, after losing 228 in a row.images

I love that school’s sports program, man! It’s all about competition, even when they’re not competitive.

As a kid, I remember going to see my father’s college — Claremont McKenna — play Cal Tech in basketball. They would crush them every year, sometimes with the JV team. Didn’t matter. CT kept on putting up teams with players who often really hadn’t ever played their respective sports in high school.

Btw, you should NOT miss Quantum Hoops (2007), a documentary about the Cal Tech basketball team. Really great filmmaking — about a team that had lost a similar number of games.

It talks about the losing, yet proud ways of the team. About the coach who would try to recruit A++ students, kids who could also play, only to find that even they couldn’t quite make the academic grade the school requires.

In the doc, they bring back players who were on the team that last won a game — that moment coming in 1985.images-2

I’m happy that Cal Tech keeps on with sports — seems to be the right focus on sports, if you ask me.

One dismaying aspect of the Quantum Hoops doc is that it quotes Cal Tech grads, an alarming number of whom ended up on Wall Street using their brains to devise complicated financial gimmicks for making a lot of money without really creating anything of value — unlike the rest of that great school.

Unlike, in fact, the Cal Tech sports programs, those Wall Street CT grads seem the embodiment of the “Win at any cost” philosophy that characterized our late, unlamented Age of Excess from which our country is now suffering junkie withdrawals.

A quick personal note: The coach of the school that lost that 1985 game to Cal Tech — the University of La Verne — was my high school coach at Claremont High School several years before. Won’t mention names. Never got along with the guy and he never did know how to pronounce my last name.

Now for something a lot less inspiring than great students at a great school….here’s one about the Mexican Mafia. Keep scrolling down…. 🙂


Filed under California, Los Angeles, Southern California

MEXICO: Oaxacan Hoops and the photographer Jorge Santiago

Tlahuitotepec's first female mayor, Sofia Robles, takes the opening shot at the basketball tournament.

Tlahuitotepec’s first female mayor, Sofia Robles, takes the opening shot at the basketball tournament.

Pittsburgh-based photographer Jorge Santiago has put up stunning images of Oaxacan village basketball tournaments at his website.

Santiago it appears spent much of 2012 wandering in the Sierra Juarez mountains from tournament to tournament and has grasped the essence of the basketball world up there — that basketball, the most urban hip-hop 21st Century sport, has become an integral part of Oaxacan Indian culture and tradition.

Check them out. They’re great!

My admiration for the photos, of course, is only enhanced by the fact that Santiago partly drew his inspiration for the project from the story on Oaxacan basketball in my first book (True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx).

But the images do make me envious. He’s traveled far into this culture and tradition and captured some beautiful shots. I’m looking forward to see what he can do with the Oaxacan basketball world here in Los Angeles, which is deep.

One thing I always found interesting about this topic: Though Oaxacan Indians are some of the most anthropologically studied of any group in Mexico, I could find no academic researcher who had even a superficial knowledge of basketball and its importance in the cultural, social, and traditional life of Oaxacan villages — or for that matter the enormous importance it plays in the lives of Oaxacan immigrants in Los Angeles, where my story (Zeus and the Oaxaca Hoops) took place.

How many dissertations have been written on pelota Mixteca — an almost extinct sport played 500 years ago? And nothing on basketball, a sport that tens of thousands of Oaxacan young men and women play with a passion bordering on obsession. I find that remarkable. Any thoughts as to why that would be? Please chime in…..


Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Migrants, Photography

MEXICO: Homeless World Cup

Mexico City photographer Keith Dannemiller has some great shots of the Homeless World Cup soccer tournament.

Great idea — forming soccer teams made up of folks who are homeless, or socially/economically marginalized, and bringing them all together to compete in a soccer tournament, this the 10th annual.

On Facebook, Keith writes of some of the people he met:

“Like Ikram Moukhlis, a young Muslim woman who lives in a women’s shelter in Tangiers, Morocco. I know about 5 phrases in Arabic, she speaks no English or Spanish, but somehow we connected and I was proud of the photos I made of her. This trip to Mexico was the first time in her life to be on a plane. And then, Mauva Hunte-Bowlby, playing for England, who has been, until just recently, ‘sofa-surfing’ in London. Ms. Hunte-Bowlby is 52, and a grandmother twice over.”

Great story, fascinating event….check out Keith’s shots.


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Filed under Culture, Global Economy, Mexico