Northwestern, Illinois battle for Chicago at Soldier Field

By Jordan Ray

For Northwestern, it’s a chance to get one step closer to making program history.

For Illinois, it’s a chance to prove Chicago isn’t just the domain of one Big Ten football team.

The Wildcats and Illini face off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Soldier Field for the first time in the rivalry’s 123-year history. The teams played in Chicago in 2010, but that was at Wrigley Field in a bizarre game that required offensive possessions for both teams to go in the same direction for safety concerns.

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Chicago Wolves: The farm team that reaps what it sows

By Nick Zazulia

Any sports team wants to win, but when you are a minor league team with a developmental deal to season prospects for another team, that can’t be your only priority.

Can it?

According to Wendell Young, the general manager of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, who are in their third year of such a partnership with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, it pretty much is.

“It starts up top with ownership (team founders Don Levin and Buddy Meyers). They demand winning and give us what we need to do that,” Young said. “We finished third one year, I get told that’s not a good year.”

That may be why the Wolves have never had a losing season since they were founded as an International Hockey League team in 1994.

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35 years before Missouri, Northwestern athletes pushed for racial equality

By Shane Monaghan

Thirty-five years ago, in the basement of football player Ben Butler’s house on the South Side of Chicago, a plan was cemented to address how African-American athletes were treated at Northwestern University.

In a place that for many of them had become a home away from home and with all but one African-American member of the football team there, Black Athletes United For the Light (BAUL) was born.

“We felt that there was unequal treatment, but we felt like there was a historical context to that, as well,” says then-football player and BAUL founding member Joe Webb. “We felt that other athletes that had come before us also had unfair expectations put on them.”

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Close, but no bylaw: IHSA commission shoots down cheerleading proposals

By Maddie Lee

Two controversial proposals, meant to prevent cheating in competitive cheerleading by placing restrictions on sideline cheerleading, hit a wall Monday in the Illinois High School Association Legislative Commission meeting.

The winter sideline cheer proposal (No. 17) to implement start and end dates needed a majority vote to make it onto the December ballot, but it was defeated in a tie. Once that one failed, commission member and proposals co-author Steven May asked members to vote down the fall sideline proposal (No. 18) to implement start and end dates, calling the two a “package deal.”

“I think if 17 would have passed,” said Legislative Commission member James Quaid, “18 would have followed.”

Proposals 17 and 18 would have restricted the start and end dates of the winter and fall seasons for sideline cheer (an activity) to keep schools from using those unfairly as practice for competitive cheerleading (an IHSA sport since 2005).
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Palestinian MMA brothers fight negative stereotypes (Video)

By Michael Bacos

Askar Askar and his brother Asef were teenagers when they came to the United States from Palestine in 2001 to reunite with their father.

They were bullied in school because of their ethnicity. So Askar’s dad enrolled him in tae kwon do in Chicago, while Asef decided to bulk up by lifting weights until he decided to take a tae kwon do class, too.

Then one day, when walking home from the class, they stumbled across an LA Boxing gym and decided to take up MMA.

“We went in and got our asses whooped the first day,” said Askar. “It was a straight-six-month period of getting destroyed.” Continue reading

Northwestern football players show support for student activism

Story by Shane Monaghan
Video by Lena Blietz

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson said he is proud to attend an institution where students use their voice in an effort to affect change.

“I think it is great that we are at a university where people are concerned about our world, and not just about our bubble at Northwestern,” Thorson said on Tuesday.

Over the past week, Northwestern students have shown solidarity with protests by students and the football team at the University of Missouri against perceived institutional racism.

Because of the significant role the Missouri football team’s boycott played in protests at Missouri — including ouster of Missouri’s president — Thorson, Justin Jackson and Anthony Walker were asked about the significance of athletes supporting campus movements Tuesday at Northwestern football’s media availability. They all talked about their support for students calling for equal rights.

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Northwestern survives Purdue, awaits Wisconsin showdown

By Jordan Ray

Northwestern entered its game against Purdue as a 14-point favorite.

So it was a little surprising when the score was tied with five minutes left.

“You’re not just going to walk on the field and blow a team out,” Northwestern sophomore running back Justin Jackson said. “It’s not how it works, especially in the Big Ten.”

NU Justin Jackson
Northwestern running back Justin Jackson. (Big Ten)

It’s certainly not how it has worked lately for Northwestern, which now has won its last three games by a total of 11 points. This one wasn’t pretty, but Northwestern (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) eked out a 21-14 win Saturday against Purdue (2-8, 1-5 Big Ten) at Ryan Field, thanks to big days from Jackson and the Wildcats defense.

The win sets up a top-25 matchup against Wisconsin next weekend that will likely have major postseason implications as Northwestern pursues a New Year’s Six bowl game, as well as its first 11-victory season.

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Calling all Chicago techies

By Lily Singh

Tucked behind a bookstore and talking above the sounds of the restaurant housed above, Chicago’s sports technology leaders zoomed in on the landscape of the town’s tech talent.

Panel discussions, classes and events were all part of Made in Chicago week, which ended Tuesday. Sessions aimed at highlighting innovation in town. Wednesday’s event, “Get in the Game: A Sports & Technology Panel,” brought together speakers who work at the intersection of both arenas. The discussion was moderated by Danny Ecker, a reporter from Crain’s Chicago Business. Continue reading