The multicultural education in an Atlanta Hawks game
The Americanization of little Bill's Clinton's family continues. Last weekend, Bill's brother Igey and his dad Hassan went to their first basketball game.A big group of teachers, parents, and students from the International Community School all attended. Parent Paul Ferguson, an editor at CNN International, had taken up a collection in his newsroom, then persuaded the Atlanta Hawks - and the Thrashers, the city's hockey team - to match the donated tickets. In all, the school received more than 500 tickets to share with students and staff. Sprinkled up the risers on Saturday night were Igey's teacher, assistant teacher, and science and gym teachers and bunches of schoolmates.
Bill Clinton and his mom Dawami were invited too. But Dawami stayed home; the family's freezer had broken, she said, and she needed to cook the fish she'd been storing there before it went bad. Bill considered attending, but he's a soccer man. His verdict on basketball: "It's boring."
So Saturday night, Igey and his dad packed into a row of friends in the nosebleed seats of Atlanta's Philips Arena. Even this non-sports fan got caught up in the excitement of an incredibly close game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Detroit Pistons.
After some initial questions ("Which team is good?" "Are we white or blue?"), Igey found his bearings and cheered whenever the Hawks (white) made a basket. He and a slew of other little boys from Congo, the US, and Somalia piled in and out of each others' seats, digging into big buckets of popcorn, and shouting "DE-FENSE" with gusto. The game was tied repeatedly, until some heroic shots in the final minute. When the Hawks managed an 87-83 win, Igey roared.
Hassan had been particularly impressed by the Hawks cheerleaders, or "A-Town Dancers." These scantily clad sirens were the source of the evening's best cultural misunderstanding, when Hassan inquired after the availability of the "lady dancers."
As the stadium emptied out, Hassan pronounced his verdict on basketball: "It's good! Very good."