| ||October 5, 1999
ESPN will examine issues surrounding Native Americans and sports in a one-hour Outside the Lines Presented by AT&T special Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET.
Athletes like Jim Thorpe, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Charlie Bender, former University of Washington quarterback Sonny Sixkiller and others from tribes like the Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Cree, Hopi, Iroquois, Mohawk, Navajo and Sioux, have sports in their history and have influenced the history of sports.
Phil Jackson, the Bulls and the Lakota Sioux
Phil Jackson, the former Bulls' and current Lakers' coach, uses teachings of the Lakota Sioux in his coaching. The Lakota concept of teamwork was deeply rooted in their view of the universe -- a warrior didn't try to stand out from his fellow band members, he strove to act bravely and honorably to help the group in whatever way it could accomplish its mission.
The Bulls' team room at the Berto Center was decorated with Native American items, including a wooden arrow with a tobacco pouch tied to it -- the Lakota Sioux symbol of prayer -- and a bear claw necklace that conveys power and wisdom on its owner. Jackson had the room decorated, he says, to reinforce in the players' minds that their journey together each season was a sacred quest.
Native Americans and the NHL
There are several NHL players with Native American heritage, including Philadelphia's Sandy McCarthy, a Mic Mac Indian, Washington's Chris Simon and Atlanta's Denny Lambert, both Ojibwa Indians, and the Islanders' Gino Odjick, an Algonquin. This segment focuses on the struggles of Native Americans to reach the NHL -- including racism and the stereotype that Native American players are "goons" or enforcers. Although hockey has its roots in Irish hurling, the game as we know it was first played by the Mic Mac Indians in Nova Scotia in the late 1600's and was called ricket by the Native Americans. The game was played using a frozen apple as a puck. - Mark Schwarz
Steve Young, Jeff Lageman and the Navajo Nation
Former NFL player Jeff Lageman and other Jacksonville Jaguars hold an annual clinic at the Navajo Nation, the country's largest Native American reservation. San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Steve Young has visited Native American tribes in Arizona for 10 years under the auspices of American Indian Services, a non-profit organization which helps send Native Americans to college.- Bob Ley
Jim Thorpe: The Athlete of the Century?
In 1950, Jim Thorpe, a Sac and Fox Indian, was voted the greatest male athlete of the half century -- where does he rank now? His accomplishments remain: led Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian School to victories over some of the nation's best college football teams (Army, Navy, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Pennsylvania, Nebraska); won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics; had a career .327 batting average with the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Braves (1913-1919); began playing pro football with the Canton Bulldogs in 1915, and when the top teams were organized into the American Professional Football Association in 1920, he was named the first president. The APFA was renamed the National Football League in 1922. - Bob Ley
Leaving the reservation
Many Native Americans find it difficult to leave their reservations, and it's particularly hard for Native American women - especially when they are teenagers or mothers. LeAnn Montes, from Box Elder, Montana and the Rocky Boy reservation, is leaving her two-year old daughter on the reservation to play basketball and pursue an education at the University of Montana. Three of the four seniors on her high school team had children when they won Montana's Class C State Championship in 1998. Many Native Americans are not able to adjust to living away from the reservation, and return there before they receive their college degrees. Montes says she needs a degree to leave the negativity of the reservation (alcoholism, drugs, poverty) and create a better future for herself and daughter. - Kelly Neal
The debate over the use of Native American mascots rages on. Last year the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to ban Native American mascots and team names from high school sports. At the high school level, school boards are regularly faced with protests over Indian mascots. Because the Braves, Indians, Redskins, Chiefs, Seminoles, etc. are popular, the issue touches sports at all levels, professional, college and high school. This segment focuses on the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians and the ongoing debate at a high school in Marquette, Michigan. - Greg Garber
Outside the Lines
Perhaps the oldest sport in America, Native Americans were playing lacrosse long before Columbus arrived in the New World. Originally a ceremonial religious rite, virtually all tribes in southern Canada and the United States played some form of lacrosse. A team could consist of hundreds or thousands of players (usually an entire village or tribe), goals were often miles apart, and a game might last up to three days. Players who couldn't get near the ball concentrated on using the stick to injure opponents. - Bob Ley
ESPN's Outside the Lines series debuted in 1990 and has covered a wide variety of topical subjects in sports, including the Internet, steroids, gambling, race, religion, sex, memorabilia fraud, sportsmanship and the influence of gangs. The series has won eight Sports Emmy Awards and three CableACE Awards.