5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Mary Mitchell

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

March 31, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This week...one of the most esteemed newspaper columnists in the nation whose award-winning work appears three times a week in the Chicago Sun-Times and is syndicated nationallyshe has been called THE voice for many Chicagoans who are never heard and has brought light to social issues in the inner city the average citizen doesnt even think aboutshe is a fighter and a championhere are 5 Questions withMARY MITCHELL!

BIO: Mary A. Mitchell is an editorial board member and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the prestigious Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club; the Phenomenal Woman Award-Media from the Expo for Today's Black Woman; and the Humanitarian Award from the 100 Black Men of Chicago. In 2004, Crain's Chicago Business honored Mitchell as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in the city.

Mitchell earned a B.A. in Journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She joined the Chicago Sun-Times as an education writer in 1991, and has covered City Hall and the U.S. Federal Courts.

Community violence, sexual abuse of minors, the HIVAIDS epidemic in African-American neighborhoods, and racial attitudes in Chicago has inspired Mitchell to tackle these controversial subjects even when community leaders are silent.

Mitchell has been called "courageous" and "compassionate" by readers who trust her to give them a voice on issues ranging from police misconduct to the tragedy of Black-on-Black violence.

She is also an advocate for women.

As a news reporter, Mitchell exposed the sexual abuse of women in Illinois prisons. Those articles prompted the Illinois General Assembly to strengthen laws prohibiting prison guards from engaging in sex with inmates.

Today, Mitchell writes about a variety of topics, but her work often rallies African-American readers to empower their communities by promoting education and by protecting the most vulnerable members of our society-our children and our elderly.

Her column appears on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays and is distributed throughout the Midwest by United Media. Mitchell is also a frequent guest panelist on WTTW's Week in Review, and has appeared on national news programs, including, FOX-TV and The O'Reilly Factor.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mary, the recent signing of the much-debated health care bill on Capitol Hill seems to have created a deep divide not only among political party lines, but among U.S. citizens as well. What would you consider to be the single biggest hurdle going forward for the Obama administration to get everyone on the same pageor do you think this will always have controversy attached to it from here on out?

Mitchell: The deep divide has always existed between political parties and has broadened since the election of President Barack Obama. But I dont believe healthcare reform is the culprit. A lot of people are angry about their own financial situation, and do not feel that they are getting ahead. When that happens, people have to blame someone. Unfortunately, it is almost a sport in this country to blame the government.

2) CSNChicago.com: You have been a champion in your cause to continually raise awareness about gun violence in the inner city of Chicago. In your opinion, are city officials doing enough in your estimation to not only address this tragic issue, which has seen the loss of life for so many innocent children, but put steps in place to end it?

Mitchell: From supporting gun-control and anti-loitering laws to sponsoring after-school programs and safe havens, the Daley administration has tried to address the on-going violence that takes place in predominantly minority neighborhoods. But the truth of the matter is government does not have the resources needed to provide the level of part-time jobs and recreation required to keep vulnerable teens out of harms way. That the Chicago Board of Education is now trying to address this issue is an encouraging sign. But the families that live in these neighborhoods, private industry, churches and non-profits will have to step up as well.

3) CSNChicago.com: Outside of Michael Jordan, tell us who you think is the greatest athlete in Chicago sports history and why?

Mitchell: Are you kidding? If you remove Michael Jordan, then you are left with the Super Bowl Bears, right? I did buy my grandson an autographed photograph of Walter Payton, which I framed and hung up in his bedroom. Im not much of a sports fan, but if Michaels off-limits, the next best has to be Walter.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve been honored countless times for your brilliant columns and overall body of work over the years. What columnists do you consider to be the best in your industry?

Mitchell: Right now, I am in love with Garrison Keillor.

5) CSNChicago.com: Your battle and eventual victory against breast cancer is something thousands of women and families across the country are dealing with at this very moment. How is everything going for you today and, a follow-up question, whats the single biggest bit of advice do you have for women out there who are scared to get a mammogram?

Mitchell: Im now officially a one-year cancer survivor, and honestly, I am beginning to feel like myself again. Had I not gotten regular mammograms, I probably would not be here today. My hair is growing back, and Im thinking about my health in a positive way (including actually getting my butt on a treadmill). For those women who have put off getting a mammogram and are afraid of the outcome, dont sweat it. The thought of what could be wrong is always worst than what actually is.

Mitchell LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell columns

Chicago Sun-TimesMary Mitchell blog

Mary Mitchell on Facebook

IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Playoff Preview

IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Playoff Preview

The IHSA Class 3A and Class 4A boys basketball state playoffs begin this week. While this Class 3A group of teams doesn't have nearly as much talent as Class 4A with regards to the Chicagoland area, there are still a few ranked teams like Morgan Park, Fenwick and North Lawndale who are all hoping to make a run down to Peoria. 

We'll have plenty of Class 3A playoff updates throughout the state playoffs on High School Lites and CSNChicago.com. Also be sure to follow our Twitter page @CSNPreps for the latest scores and highlights.

Here's a preview of the Chicago-area teams to track in the Class 3A playoffs over the next few weeks.

Antioch Sectional

Favorite: North Chicago (17-8, 13-1) is the No. 1 seed here as they've won 13 of their last 15 games. With a home draw in regional play and a difficult, pressing style to prepare for in a tournament setting, North Chicago is hoping to win a sectional for the first time since winning four straight from 2011 through 2014. 

Other Contenders: Ridgewood (16-10, 7-5) finished third in the Metro Suburban Red as they come in as the No. 2 seed. Senior Zach Rzewnicki is perhaps the best player in the sectional and is a player to watch here. 

Darkhorse: St. Viator (11-16, 6-3) had an underwhelming regular season but they managed to go 6-3 in the loaded East Suburban Catholic Conference -- including wins over Marian Catholic, Benet and St. Patrick. 

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If No. 2 seed Ridgewood has to face No. 7 Elmwood Park then it could get interesting because these two teams had a six-point game less than a week ago. Ridgewood won the season series 2-0 over Elmwood Park but it is always difficult to beat any team for the third time.

Fenwick Sectional

Favorite: Catholic League champion Fenwick (24-4, 9-0) is hungry after falling short of Peoria last season as they're playing good ball down the stretch. After winning the Catholic League Tournament, the Friars have many options, including seniors Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon and emerging freshman D.J. Steward. 

Other Contenders: North Lawndale (20-7, 7-3) and Farragut (12-9, 4-6) both went through the very tough Public League Red-West and should be prepared to face against a team as talented Fenwick. The Phoenix have been in the CSN Preps Power Rankings all season while Farragut pulled off a huge road upset at Uplift in the second round of the Public League Playoffs.  

Darkhorse: Westinghouse (10-14, 1-9) has a very talented senior in Coreyoun Rushin and they also played a lot of close games in the Red-West despite that bad conference record. After a solid Public League Playoff win over Hyde Park, Westinghouse could be dangerous.

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: We could see a Red-West clash at Nazareth Academy as No. 4 seed Westinghouse and No. 5 seed Marshall could meet. The only Red-West win for Westinghouse this season came against the Commandos as these two teams split the season series. 

St. Rita Sectional

Favorite: Morgan Park (19-6, 9-1) just missed on winning the Public League Playoffs as the Mustangs could be the favorite to win the whole thing in Class 3A. The Mustangs don't have nearly as tough of competition in the class this season and they also have strong interior play with seniors Melo Burrell and Lenell Henry. Junior Ayo Dosunmu and senior Cam Irvin make for a talented perimeter and Morgan Park has a lot of talent to make a state title run.

Other Contenders: Bogan (17-7, 7-3) has been the toughest competitor for Morgan Park in this sectional the last few years but the Bengals aren't quite the top-25 mainstay like we've come to expect. Still talented, Bogan lost to Morgan Park twice during the season but beat Simeon.  

Darkhorse: St. Rita (16-10, 4-3) is a bit young, and they rely a lot on three-pointers, but the Mustangs are also talented enough to surprise some people and make it to sectional play if the deep ball is working.

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If the Mustangs play No. 3 seed Hyde Park (14-9, 6-4) then it could get really interesting. St. Rita has won four consecutive games and beaten teams like Marist and Loyola this season while Hyde Park is the home team in this one. The Thunderbirds also own some quality wins, including one over Bloom, but they've been a bit sluggish late in the season. 

Plano Sectional

Favorite: Hillcrest saw its 28-year conference title streak get snapped but the Hawks are still a talented team that was in the preseason CSN Preps Power Rankings. As the No. 1 seed in a weaker sectional. the Hawks have a chance to make a run here. Senior Marcus Garrett is one of the best guards in the Class 3A field. 

Other Contenders: Plano (21-6, 10-1) is the Interstate Eight champion but they piled up a lot of wins against smaller schools during the year and it'll be interesting to see if they can hang with the schools from higher-profile conference. The Reapers did beat No. 2 seed Sandwich last Friday for a solid road win so they are coming in with confidence.

Darkhorse: Streator (16-11, 9-2) came in second place in the Interstate Eight as they've been playing better ball lately than some other higher seeds in this sectional. Winners of four of their last five, Streator is the No. 3 seed in their subregional. 

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If Sandwich and Streator matchup in Coal City it will be a rematch of when they met on Feb. 17. Streator took that matchup with a 54-43 win. 

Draft pick at No. 3 demands guiding 'concept' of what Bears ultimately want to be

Draft pick at No. 3 demands guiding 'concept' of what Bears ultimately want to be

With the Bears holding the No. 3 pick of the upcoming draft, the obvious and automatic focus settles on Player A, B, D etc. "Best available" is an operating philosophy that routinely rules the moment.
 
But for the Bears and the 2017 draft, another overarching philosophical principle is in play. Specifically, what is the concept (for want of a better word) guiding what GM Ryan Pace is attempting to do?
 
Coach John Fox, as well as Pace, want a team founded on defense, running the football and ball security. They know the franchise need for a quarterback, but a team building on defense could reasonably be expected to weight their draft decisions toward that side of the football.
 
Meaning: A quarterback like Clemson's Deshaun Watson could alter the entire persona of the Bears and the Halas Hall building, but if the far-and-away best option at No. 3 is defense…?
 
What makes this draft and the Bears' operating concept intriguing is that the chances will be there potentially to build a true elite defense. Beginning at No. 3:
 
"I think [Alabama defensive lineman] Jonathan Allen is one of the two or three best players in this draft," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock via conference call on Monday. "What I like about him is he dominates outside…but I think he's going to make his money on an inside pass rusher. Inside or outside, I think he's a special player."
 
Behind that – and last year's No. 1, Leonard Floyd, addressed the rush-linebacker spot – is the secondary, with both cornerback and safety among the strongest positions in the draft.
 
"This is a great corner class," Mayock said. "If you don't get one in the first round, you can come back in the second or third rounds and really help yourself."
 
The safety group is such that Mayock posited the prospect of two going in the Top 10, maybe Top 5. 
 
Deciding on a "concept"
 
One former NFL personnel executive maintained that the salary cap all but precluded building offense and defense equally, so the need was to define an identity and build to that, within reason. Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo opted a concept that built both offense and defense equally, but with designated positions ticketed for more cap resources: quarterback, running back, one wideout, two O-linemen, one franchise pass rusher, etc. Not all 22 positions are created equal but creating offense and defense simultaneously was doable.
 
"It's really what a team is looking for," said Mayock, speaking both of player preferences but in a way that extended to picking players for a scheme. Or philosophy.
 
Different concepts, like diets, work if you execute them well.

The Bears reached Super Bowl XLI with a Top 5 defense and a mid-teen's offense. The Indianapolis Colts prevailed in that game with a No. 3 offense and a defense ranked in the low 20's in both yardage and points allowed.