Smile Politely

Politics play in Illini loss to Northwestern

Sunday afternoon in the House of Plain, a lanky group of future CEO’s played keep-away from its prospective labor force. It was kinda fun to watch. How often do social elites deign to mix it up with the unwashed masses?

The cat-and-mouse game ran for 40 minutes, and then Northwestern’s Wildcats got bored and left town with a 74–67 victory. (Brandon Paul’s last three-pointer snapped the net as the final horn sounded, making the official score more respectable.)

Labor versus management is an ongoing struggle only in the eyes of Lenin and Trotsky, and they’re both dead. Perhaps labor wins the yearly picnic game, but management wins the other 364 days. And why not? They’re smarter.

Face it: they’re better.

In real life, it’s always been this way between Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. Northwestern produces the leaders, and U of I churns out the employees. We made up for our woeful inferiority by kicking Northwestern’s nerdy ass all over sports fields, three times a year — as brutish dullards are wont to do.

Not anymore.

Since Gary Barnett’s tenure in Evanston, Northwestern has been our superior in football. As of Sunday, Northwestern is our equal on the basketball court.

It seems almost impossible.

Northwestern is the doormat to the Big Ten. Snickers is the best-selling American candy bar.  Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Rely on it. It’s carved in stone.

But not anymore.

Fittingly, as the rich kids lorded it over us taxpayers, America’s last remaining Kennedy guffawed from the best seat in the house. Chris Kennedy, the product of exclusive (that means they exclude) private schools made the trip from … oh I don’t know, Kenilworth?

Chris may be a nice guy. He might be capable. Because his name is Kennedy, and his dad was Bobby, Peeeyatt Quinn appointed him Chairman of the University Board of Trustees. If you’re a republican or a Democrat, you should be disgusted by this nod to privilege and peerage.

“Well, now we know he’s been to campus” quipped a former university higher-up. Of course he came. It’s the Northwestern game. Not the Illini game, mind you. Chris Kennedy got his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School.


Ashton Winfrey came from Peoria with a gaggle of five or six teenagers. They seemed to have a good time. Winfrey balls at Richwoods, Doug Altenberger’s school.

Mikal Muhammad was more subdued, but then he was joined by his dad, Michael. No matter how cool dads are, gaggles of teenagers are more excitable. Mikal plays for Hales-Franciscan, in Chicago.

Mike LaTulip came with his dad Gary and brother Mitch.

Friday night, Mike broke the all-time scoring record at Prospect High. The 22-point effort brought his career total to 1298. That’s a lot.

Mike says he started playing varsity ball as a sophomore.

Former Illini football/basketball player Jeff Finke brought a pair of unusually tall sons to the game. Only Michael is old enough (a sophomore at Champaign Central) to be considered a recruit.

J.C. Caroline is among the all-time Illini football greats. He was a reasonably good 8th-grade gym teacher, too. His genes are now powering Jordan Caroline, also at Champaign Central.

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