Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Boy Gets SI Attention for Wrong Reasons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Boy Gets SI Attention for Wrong Reasons

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

It's nice that Sports Illustrated did a piece on 11-year-old Christopher Bateh of Jacksonville, a three-sport star, in the current issue. Too bad that the reason for it was because his Arab-American heritage had made him the object of taunting from some students at Mandarin Middle School since last week's terrorist attacks.

SI learned of Bateh's plight because the story's author, former Times-Union staff writer Don Yaeger, is a friend of Sandy Bateh, the boy's father. The family is hoping the story will awaken people to the harm and indignity of associating all Arab-Americans with terrorist activity, but his parents also don't want the school to suffer a negative image for the isolated behavior of a few mean-spirited kids.

Since the story was published, the family has gotten supportive phone calls from all across America, including a boy in California with asthma who made an effort to call several Bateh residences in Jacksonville before finally reaching Christopher to offer encouragement.

Bateh's dream is to play in the NBA. Here's hoping that if Christopher ever appears in SI again, it'll be for his ability to knock down a jump shot. Preferably, while wearing a USA jersey in the Olympic Games. . . .

With the NFL standing to lose about $75 million in television revenue if it has to cancel wild-card playoff games, one of the few options to accommodate the entire post-season schedule is to move the Super Bowl date by exchanging hotel space with a car dealers convention in New Orleans the following week. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue may be desperate enough to fork over a lot of cash to fix this problem. Interesting switch: seeing the NFL possibly being victimized by someone else driving up prices. . . . Understandably overlooked during last weekend's sports-dry menu was former Alabama golfer Jason Bohn shooting a final-round 58, the lowest score ever in a sanctioned professional tournament, at the par-71 Huron Oaks Golf Club in Ontario to win the Canadian Professional Golf Tour's Bayer Championship. …

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