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Nuthin’ but net: A look at basketball hoops in city parks

In the recent debate about prohibiting portable basketball hoops on city streets, I have heard people describe the city’s basketball courts using words such as “deplorable” and “unsafe.” After taking a look at the various parks in the area that have basketball hoops, I can only come to the conclusion that the folks making these claims haven’t actually visited these places themselves, because the characterization is not accurate for most of the parks by any means.

The two best basketball facilities in the city are at Veteran’s Field and Lynch Middle School. Both locations have two full-sized courts each. The well attended “Stop The Violence” three on three tournament was recently held at Veteran’s and the Wishful Thinking Summer Recreation program uses the courts at Lynch on a regular basis. Both these courts appear to be in good shape to me. The only defect I found at Veteran’s was one ripped net, but all the nets at both locations appear to brand new.

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Veteran’s Field

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One ripped net at Veteran’s Field

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Wishful Thinking Summer Recreation players at Lynch Middle School

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Wishful Thinking Summer Recreation players at Lynch Middle School

There is another full-sized basketball court at Barkley School on the south side. The surface of this court is not in the greatest shape, but is still playable. Chain nets have been recently installed on this court.

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Basketball court at Barkley School

As far as other locations go, Shuttleworth Park, Riverlink Park, Arnold Ave Park, and Kirk Douglas park do not currently have basketball hoops.

Sirchia Park, which is located between Division St. and Guy Park Ave, is one location that could definitely use some work. It has a large paved area that could be used for basketball, but is in need of serious repair. It has posts which look like at one time could have had basketball hoops attached to them. Alderman Ron Barone has said he wants to get hoops installed there within a matter of weeks, and I think that’s a great idea.

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Sirchia park

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Sirchia Park

To me, keeping kids from playing on streets is a common sense safety measure. Thousands of children a year are injured or killed from being struck by cars, and the primary reason (as found in at least one study) tends to be when kids run out into traffic. However, the activity of playing in the streets seems to be a time-honored tradition many people don’t want to see done away with, and the risks seems relatively low, especially when conducted in low traffic areas or dead-end streets.

I think the truth is that kids walking or playing in the streets has become an increasing nuisance to drivers, and that is what is motivating the push to ban the portable hoops from streets. That’s not necessarily a bad reason, but let’s call it like it is. A ban might decrease that problem a little, but I think we will continue to see kids playing other games or walking in traffic. The answer as to why kids seem to be increasingly prone to blocking traffic in a defiant manner is a harder question to answer. I tend to agree with Alderwoman Valerie Beekman’s sentiments that we need to do a better job of teaching our kids the value of respecting others. But I’m not sure if that problem that can be fixed by legislation.

Either way, I find the argument that kids are playing in the streets because our parks are in such poor shape is without merit. I think between the school district and the city, our community is doing a good job providing plenty of safe places around the city for kids to play all sorts of games and sports. I think fixing up Sirchia Park as well as providing one or two other places to play (particularly in the East End and Reid Hill areas) would be even better.

It’s good that we are talking about the best way to improve the quality of life for Amsterdam’s youth. But our city’s parks (for the most part) are aspects of our community we can be proud of. They don’t deserve to be dragged through the mud in this debate.

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About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of AnthemWebsites.com LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

5 Responses to Nuthin’ but net: A look at basketball hoops in city parks

  1. Dorothy says:

    Tim…thanks for the reality check. For some, it’s much quicker and easier to simply put up their personal opinions and not the facts. It is true, also, that the East End and Reid Hill areas could have better park/court facilities for the youth to use. Perhaps, that is where the other council members could institute change.

  2. Fabrizia says:

    I just want to point out that veterans park wasn’t fixed until Week of July 6 for the 3 on 3 tournament. Up until then the court nearest the tennis court had one missing hoop and one hoop folded over. Also lynch middle school is not a city park. Were lucky the school district doesn’t fence it off like they have the football field. It’s always in good shape because the school district assign janitors to keep up with its maintenance. The park on the south side also just recently received their nets this month in July.

    The hoops on the street happen because those families don’t have a backyard or driveway to use. Maybe having a park with hoops in walking distance might deter these families from playing basketball in the street. But it won’t deter them from playing anything else or even just lounging on the streets/sidewalks.

    Your right the problem is the kids have been a nuisance on the road (not specifically because of basketball) bunn street is the best example at 230pm. Getting rid of hoops won’t change kids. Talking to kids and their families is what will help teach them. I wish out police department would bike ride all summer and build relationships with our local kids. Many of then don’t have parents watching them let alone disciplining them. It takes a village to raise a child. It’s too bad our councilmen don’t want to invest in the young people of Amsterdam.

    Thanks for your blog.

  3. carol jordan says:

    I don’t understand why kids are so disrespectful, but putting a rule into place will not stop this. Kids have been walking down the middle of the streets for as long as I can remember, especially on Bunn Street, and they often walk right in front of you, just to be defiant. I know this is a problem that can’t be fixed overnight, but having police presence on that street when school lets out, would help a lot. The middle school and HS kids who get dropped off by bus are the main perpetrators there, because these kids enjoy holding up traffic. Basketball hoops, aren’t going to stop rudeness. Each kid who defies the rules should be brought down to the station to sit and wait for a parent to pick them up. If they inconvenience their parents enough, maybe they will stop being such a big danger and pain to drivers. JAYWALKING is a crime, and should be addressed.

  4. The hoops at Veterans Field were in deplorable condition when I used them last Fall. I would check them again in a few months. I think you will find them in deplorable condition again. Some kids want to play hoops at home because the hoops in the parks are constantly vandalized. Second, there are no public hoops east of Church Street, so kids in those neighborhoods have to walk along way to get to any hoops. Third, in walking to parks, kids, even those who follow traffic rules, have to deal with dangerous intersections and drivers who don’t follow the rules. Fourth, I lived on Bunn Street for 20 years, and kids getting out of school did walk in the road. But I also saw an employee of the Middle School run the same stop sign everyday. The problem of dangerous drivers in Amsterdam and dangerous intersections where drivers should not be able to turn on red is, in my mind, a bigger issue than kids playing in the streets. What would have been helpful is if you had supplied statistics on the number of children injured or killed by walking and playing in the streets. (I think you will find that there are none.) How many pedestrians or kids playing in the street in Amsterdam have been injured or killed from violating the laws compared to how many people have been killed by motorists violating laws? We need to be curbing cars not people. Fifth, there are already laws on the books against blocking traffic in streets, so why do you need another law prohibiting hoops. If kids are blocking traffic while playing basketball, the cops already have the authority to deal with the situation. Finally, if we don’t get serious about code enforcement, we won’t have to worry about the problem, because there will be not only dozens of vacant houses in Amsterdam, but there will be also dozens of vacant streets where kids will be able to play hoops all they want without every having to worry about seeing a car, a cop or an alderwoman who can’t see that while she is rearranging the chairs on the deck, the ship is sinking.