SBD/23/Sports Society

KNICKS NO LONGER GOING TO (SOUTH) CAROLINA IN THEIR MIND

          The Knicks announced yesterday that they are "pulling"
     their preseason training camp out of Charleston, SC,
     "because of the state's continued policy of flying the
     Confederate flag over the state Capitol building," according
     to Steve Popper of the N.Y. TIMES.  The team has trained at
     the College of Charleston for the past eight years.  Knicks
     Exec VP/Franchise Operations Steve Mills said that the
     decision was reached "after a number of players voiced their
     objections" to traveling to Charleston.  Mills: "We're
     making a decision that we think is in the best interests of
     our team. ... We obviously don't want to put our players in
     a situation that they're uncomfortable with."  Popper writes
     the Knicks are "the first professional sports team to take
     such an action."  The USATF, which will be holding the U.S.
     women's marathon trials this Saturday in Columbia, SC,
     issued a statement last week "in support of removal of the
     flag.  At the same time, some track and field athletes have
     contemplated a protest during Saturday's trials" (N.Y.
     TIMES, 2/23).  In N.Y., Frank Isola writes that two Knicks,
     speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that "nearly
     all of the players wanted to continue going" to SC, but
     "feared that the black community would criticize the
     decision" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/23).  In N.Y., Marc Berman
     notes that 13 of the 14 players on the Knicks' roster are
     African-American.  Knicks G Allan Houston, on the flag
     controversy: "Do I feel strongly about it? Yeah, I do." 
     Berman writes that the Knicks "signed a four-year deal in
     October to continue training in Charleston."  However,
     Charleston AD Jerry Baker said that the Knicks pay the
     college a flat fee of $4,000 a year to "train at its gym and
     the contract could easily be bought out."  Berman adds that
     the Knicks are "leaving open the possibility of returning"
     to Charleston for camp in October "if the Confederate flag
     ... is removed" (N.Y. POST, 2/23).  Mills: "This change of
     venue only affects this year's playoff training camp.  We
     will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation." 
     Baker: "We are sympathetic to the Knicks' position.  They
     are a great partner for us, and we will continue to work
     with them in any manner we can" (POST & COURIER, 2/23).

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