|If you let him shoot, it's too late.|
|If you let him shoot, it's too late.|
So in the wake of a tragic week in which African Americans and police officers have needlessly lost their lives as a result of gun violence, the solution our so-called leaders come up with are one-sided rallies so they can deliver diatribes against people who just don't think the way they do. The result is vilification, which just divides us more.
I believe we need tighter gun control laws, aimed mostly at mentally ill people who have displayed violent tendencies. We need to consider limiting the use of weapons like the AR-15, which have been used in several mass shootings. But I know many decent people with different views. Instead of talking at and demonizing each other, which is what tends to happen at these rallies, a lot more can be accomplished by having a dialogue with people who think differently.
We used to have dialogues and debates leading to common ground.
Now it is sound bites and signs.
Ironically, the people most impacted by gun violence, our local youth, were more focused this weekend on dribbling and dunking than in listening to a bunch of phonies.
The Morning Call's Keith Groller is no pundit. He's a sportswriter. But like me, he was in heaven this weekend as people of all ages, colors and economic circumstances came together to watch one great sport - basketball. On Thursday night, I saw a multi-millionaire sitting close to a person with no money at all. Me. I think we both had the same amount of fun.
Over the years, I've met hundreds of people I would never know, but for basketball.
Mentors include people like Judge Emil Giordano, who took kids who were just starting out and put them on the right path. He gave them a love of the game. Then Rodney Robinson, a TV Director, would spend weekend teaching first graders Dat Lambert or Mikey Esquilin to dribble with both left and right hands, and went on to coach a team that never lost a game. Chuck Rockmore became a father to hundreds of Allentown kids in the East side and Wall2Wall programs. "What's up, Youngblood!" I could hear him saying to ballers. Craig Golden is a living saint who has spent much of his adult life working with kids who would have no chance at all, but for him. He lead the 'Canes to three years of games without a loss. He made sure every kid had his own basketball, and even went out and bought them jackets for Christmas one year. The result is a Liberty High School team that shocked everyone at Stellar. Everyone except Craig. Then there are AAU coaches like Dawud Abdur-Rahkman, who took athletes like Dat, Jay and Sammy Vaughan (CCHS), Mikey Esquilin (Whitehall), John Bartholomew (Parkland), Kevin Kern (CCHS), Zach Sabo (Emmaus), Trevor Storm (Easton) and Ryan Young (Becahi) and turned them into a force on the basketball court.
Over time, these kids have all come to know and respect one another. They have their own brotherhood.
I like the way Groller puts it.
Basketball is one of those sports that brings the whole world together and while I don't like everything about the modern era of hoops, I love how the sport unites people in a way that many other sports do not.Dribbling and dunking trump diatribes. If you want to stem all the hate and gun violence, its ugly stepsister, it is time to engage in dialogues instead of diatribes in which like-minded people get together to condemn everyone else.
In basketball, skin color or nationality or social-economic background doesn't matter. Can you shoot, pass, rebound, defend and work hard? That's how you are judged.
One way to end the hate is to encourage more youth sports, especially in inner cities. East Side Youth Center should be three times its current size. Where are the phonies on that issue? Why not invite gun advocates and look for common ground instead of more division?
That's what the kids would do. They seem to have more sense.
By the way, this weekend we'll have Sportsfest and the A-town Throwdown. You won't find the panderers there.