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Friday, July 17, 2015: Illinois school keeping Midgets nickname

   Leading off today: Athletes at an Illinois high school will retain the nickname "Midgets" despite the objections of a group representing people with dwarfism, The Associated Press reports.

   About 500 people gathered at Freeburg Community High School in southern Illinois on Thursday to urge the school board not to dump the mascot. The Little People of America had asked Freeburg and a half-dozen other schools nationwide to drop the midgets nickname.

   The name originated in the early 1900s when a local reporter was impressed by the school's short basketball team beating larger opponents.

   "We recognize that it's not intended to have a negative impact," Little People of America President Gary Arnold said. "But with all the history and baggage that comes with the word, it still does. It sends a signal to youth that the use of the word 'midget' to describe a small person is acceptable and humorous," he said.

   Arnold delivered a 4,400-signature petition to the school last week asking to phase out the nickname and cease selling "Midget" merchandise. Supporters have organized a dueling petition and Facebook page.

   "People's perspective on what is a good mascot or a bad mascot, that's a subjective issue," Freeburg Superintendent Andrew Lehman said. "The name stuck. The town liked it. It ought to be the decision of the people who run the school."

   Convicted: A federal jury convicted former Section 5 basketball star Art Long of drugs and guns crimes Thursday. The jury found him guilty of planning to deal marijuana and ecstasy and of possession of a stolen .45-caliber handgun and an AK-47 rifle.

   Long, who played at the University of Cincinnati and briefly in the NBA, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 13.

   Arguably his ultimate claim to fame came in college when he was charged with -- but subsequently acquitted -- punching a police horse.

   Charged: Former Syracuse Corcoran and SU football standout Will Allen has been charged in Massachusetts with 23 felonies in an alleged Ponzi scheme, according to an indictment filed last week, reported.

   Allen, who was arrested last month, is accused of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and monetary transactions in proceeds of specified unlawful activity. Allen, along with his business partner, Susan Daub, managed a company that made high-interest, short-term loans to professional athletes. Prosecutors allege Allen and Daub of misleading investors and using their money for personal gain or other business ventures from June 2012 to March 2015.

   Allen, 36, netted approximately $4.1 million from the scheme, according to a signed affidavit filed last month by an FBI investigator.

   Allen spent 11 seasons in the NFL, playing five seasons each with the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins before signing with the New England Patriots in 2012.

   Mohawk and SU great dies: George Davis, a former Mohawk High football standout who went on to star at Syracuse University, July 10 at age 89 in Hartwell, Ga. football site

   Davis enrolled at Syracuse University after serving as a Navy medic in World War II and became a star halfback, leading the team in rushing in 1948 and 1949 and setting several marks later broken by Jim Brown, The Observer-Dispatch reported. He still owns SU's record for longest run from scrimmage with a 95-yard TD carry vs. Fordham in 1949.

   Davis went on to coach at Mynderse, compiling a 130-30-8 mark in 21 seasons. In 1970 he became head coach at Hobart College, where his teams went 37-16-1 in six seasons.

   A mighty good use of your time: I have the attention span of a 3-year-old -- Oh, look, a puppy! (Sorry.) -- so long-form journalism in print or online generally doesn't awe me.

   However, Michael Powell of The New York Times did an amazing job yesterday with his account of the 2014-15 boys basketball season, illustrated with some beautiful photography, at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High in the South Bronx.

   If you don't know anything about what Marc Skelton has accomplished at Fannie Lou Hamer or what sorts of obstacles coaches in a city of 8 million people face, just immerse yourself in this. It's worth 15 or 20 minutes of your time.

   On the move: Shea Patterson, crowned the Elite 11 winner last weekend in Beaverton, Ore., says he is transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

   The Ole Miss commit played the past two seasons at Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist Academy, where he led his team to two consecutive state titles. Before that, Patterson played a season in Texas.

   IMG Academy is a national power whose QB, five-star Florida State commit Malik Henry, recently left to play closer to his California home.

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