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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sportswriter Cries Foul Over Rim Removal



Morning Call sportswriter Stephen Gross has to have one of the best jobs in the world. He gets paid to cover the Phillies and the Phantoms. But yesterday, he was a columnist who penned one of the finest pieces of journalism (not that I'm any judge) in many years. His story is about Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski's removal of basketball rims from Andre Reed (Irving) Park. It struck a chord with me because when I read it, I knew it came straight from his heart.

Gross' roots are right here in the Lehigh Valley. He graduated from Dieruff High School and Moravian College. For the first 25 years of his life, he was an East Sider who lived near Irving Park. Until he was 19, it was the only park within walking distance.

He explained this Fed Ed folly. "What Pawlowski should do is immediately replace the rims and enforce the laws that are on the books," he writes. That's what I said. That's what blogger Michael Molovisnky said. Gross said it better.

Allentown is a basketball town. Some of you know how important this is to many of that City's kids. I know several living saints who sacrifice their time and money to help young men with nothing else.

One young man is a starter for one of the local teams. He is very gifted. But a few years ago, his father was arrested and jailed for dealing. This young man went into a depression, lost focus and began to think that he must be garbage. He stopped playing and began to hang with the wrong crowd. One man brought him back after being rebuffed a few times.

Another talented young man was homeless last year on the day his team played an exciting playoff game before a crowd of thousands. His mother spent the money intended for rent and was sleeping in a car with his sisters while he couch surfed. Some people and his coach got together and bailed out this kid's mother, although I learned that she herself is a scam artist.

For many of these young men, basketball is all they have. That is their family. For every one who gets some help, there are ten or more who fall by the wayside. I know one young man right now, a person who thrills everyone on the basketball court, who has stopped playing to become a rapper. His father - a good man - had a stroke. I think that has affected him. Everyone is reaching out to him. So far, no luck.

This is no excuse for rowdy behavior or violating park rules. But you don't punish everyone for the actions of a few.    

As an East Sider, Gross understands this. A carpetbagger from Chicago does not.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yawn

Anonymous said...

Excellent prose, Bernie. My grandson and his friends play pickup games all summer long at parks in the area, including Andre Reed. He has commented that the rims at Reed are/were the best around. The court itself is nice, too. Nestled in a wooded area, you get some relief from the son. My grandson is white, but most of his friends are kids of color. They are good kids who love the game. No matter who they play, win or lose, they shake hands or fist bump out of mutual respect. Kids of all colors and ethnicity forming teams and showing pride in scoring buckets. These kids are learning teamwork, and how to get along no matter what your background. They are dispelling bigotry and racism in the process. So instead of just looking at noise and occasional foul language, look at the good this activity can do for the young men and women who play there. Mayor Ed should be ashamed of himself for his rash decision. They should find a sensible solution to the problem and restore the rims ASAP.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm just glad this is happening on the east side. Put the rims back up and have the APD park a patrol car near the courts. The thugs will see the cop and keep moving and play their midnight basketball elsewhere. Maybe in Nazareth

Anonymous said...

Life is filled with situations where a few ne'r do wells ruin things for everyone. The kids are learning this - and that politicians suck.

Anonymous said...

Suggest the YawnGuy read the 4:51 post. It will serve as a WAKEUP call.

Anonymous said...

If Fed Ed picked up a dozen votes it was worth it for him.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in "Public Housing". Yes, we had a basketball court, a set of swings and a sliding board. We also had a baseball field that we constructed with the help of some adults. If you wanted to play basketball, you played during daylight hours. When it got too dark to play, you went home. When it got dark, your parents wanted to know where you were and what you were doing. It was called being a responsible parent.The gymnasium's of the local schools were open in the fall one night a week and on Saturday mornings. All parks should be shut down from 9 PM into daylight hours. There should be no night lights for night time basketball. The rims should not be removed to deter young people from using the parks. The curfew of no one in the park after nine should be enforced period. No exceptions. There is a time to play and a time to rest and sleep.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can tell me why there are lights at this basketball facility if they close at dusk ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Good point. When the City places lights there, it is more or less inviting you to continue playing. But I imagine the lights are there for organized games.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, to answer the lights question the 3rd party engineering firm didn't have a off on switch in there plans. The whole thing is wrapped around 3 doing its job and let the other venues do there job. Now we have all venues covering for 3 failers to communicate instead of dictate.
If the head doesn't do its job all the rest think they also don't have to do there job. All work together like a fine watch with all the little mechanisms doing there part to make the hands tell what time it is, simple! There are many springs sprung and about to become more than just unraveled, but as we see they are becoming unhinged too.

Anonymous said...

let um play return the rims

Anonymous said...

Oh please, stop your race baiting. You are not from the streets and have no street cred. You are pissed that you have predicted Pawlowski would be in jail for years and it has not happened. Now you even blame the government. You are an angry and delusional little man. Now you play the race cared. That is funny considering who you hang out with.

Anonymous said...

Allentown was never a "basketball town". In the summers we had little leagues, we had industrial baseball leagues and church leagues. Basketball was something that was played in the winter when the weather was cold and nasty.

It was the demographic sea change that brought this interest in basketball. Along with all the other baggage that Daddonna left with his massive immigration program of lower classes from New York and Philadelphia that has changed our city for the worse.

pathfinder said...

Anon@7:50AM You are absolutely correct! In the summer I played on teams in both the church & industrial baseball teams and in the winter played on the church league basketball teams. Unfortunately none of these exist anymore.