Jabari Parker was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this past summer. He’s supposedly a great kid and an unbelievable basketball talent. So why are the headlines more about the violence that occurs after the game and not the performances on the court? It has gotten to a point where Chicago’s School Board is threatening to shut basketball down.
As someone that used to cover high school sports in the area, Public League Basketball is huge. Fans look forward to some of these neighborhood match-ups, and tickets are nearly impossible to get for some of the top match-ups. On a regular basis, fans and players will get into squabbles that lead to the fans from both sides adding to the ruckus. The most recent incident occurred last week when Parker’s Simeon squad played Morgan Park at Chicago State University. After a 53-51 win by Simeon, some pushing-and-shoving occurred with the two-teams during handshakes. As this was broken up, the coaches were continuing to scream at each other. The coaches? These guys are supposed to be the role models for these kids and they escalate the situation. It’s an embarrassment on the whole freaking system.
In what is being called an unrelated incident, a 17-year old boy was shot outside of the venue.
In addition to covering sports, I also was a teacher for many years. The fact that coaches contributed to this whole fiasco makes it even more disturbing. Just picture trying to attend a basketball game and ending up a part of a post-game fight? Is it really worth it?
Quite honestly, corruption and disorganization has been a part of the Public Leagues for years. Stories of coaches and players taking money is just the tip of the iceberg. Until some real solutions are put into place, there will be more problems and less solutions. When the adults in the room act as bad if not worse than the kids, the whole system is bad. This culture just didn’t start last week, it’s been common-place for years. Gotta love reactionary politics!
It would be great to see Public League basketball cleaned up. As a kid growing up, there were so many unbelievable players that went on to great things. But until this problem is fixed, all we can expect are the headlines to have little-to-nothing to do with the games.