"I have heard rumors that he has given up on getting the visa to play in the U.S. this year, and has decided to play for St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia. I talked to St. Francis Xavier, and they acknowledged the rumors, but say there is nothing to report at this point. If he becomes a highly sought NBA prospect, I wonder if other forces -- Better lawyers? Politically connected bigwigs? -- will come to bear on the immigration process."It's nothing shy of an outrage that Bol Kong's predicament has not become more of a national story. It only comes up as a local-news item Vancouver as a hot topic on hoops-nut message boards.
Silence speaks volumes. It's just brain-bashing, beat-your-head-against-the-wall that there's no sense of obligation to do right by one of our best and brightest young people. It's even more galling when the Prime Minister of Canada has spots playing every 10 minutes on TV where he talks about being a leader in the world and not just "going along to get along."
Not just going along to get along would mean there would be some leadership exercised to try to help the U.S. State Department realize that Kong is only a threat on the basketball court, so he can better pursue his dream of playing the NBA. On merit, the 6-foot-7 swingman should be embarking upon his freshman season at Gonzaga, which is a pretty fair basketball school. That has fallen through since the U.S. government, in its infinite wisdom, turned down his visa application since Kong a citizen of the Sudan, which America views as a sponsor of terrorizers (hat tip to the Harold & Kumar franchise).
Never mind that Kong has lived in Canada since age seven and that his family got out of the Sudan for the same reasons that the U.S. government is looking askance that African nation with good reason. Who knows, perhaps there would some outcry if Kong played hockey instead of basketball (hate to go into hypotheticals, but with players such as Nigerian-born Akim Aliu and J.K. Gill, a Sikh, now playing in the Canadian Hockey League, it's not that far-fetched).
It would be great if someone, anyone on the campaign trail tried to find out what our federal government is doing to support Bol Kong, who could do a lot for this country.
He would be an asset to any CIS team. In the larger picture, it's not a win that he's being kept out of the United States.
(There's post over at The CIS Blog which touches more on the possibility of Kong playing for St. Francis Xavier. St. FX would be a decent place for him to go for a year or two as he tries to get his visa situation squared away, or waits for a good opportunity in the improving European leagues. The Antigonish, N.S., school also has an alumni base that works very hard to support the basketball team, so it wouldn't be a shock if they made an overture to Kong.)