The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Basketball Weekend

In the Plainfield Sport News (click here), Noel Pyne has penned  a wonderful story about the 16th Annual George "Gee Gee" Brown Memorial Basketball Tournament, which begins Friday, July 27 and runs through Sunday, July 29. I would love to read in-depth history of street ball in Plainfield which, as Noel notes, reigned supreme in the 1970s and 1980s. I grew up in South Jamaica, Queens--another big basketball community--played on the courts at 40 Projects (our name for South Jamaica Houses) and Baisley Projects, in church leagues, and in any driveway that had a hoop. Basketball is still big in South Jamaica, and notable NBA players were drafted from my community.

A friend of mine, Ronald Strothers, has written a history of street ball in Newark during the 1950s and 1960s. His book, titled The Salt Mine: Who Will Tell Your Story? (click here), is a cultural history of Newark and basketball, focusing on street legends Charles Johnson, Cleo Hill, Richard Glover, and George Reynolds, primarily. I highly encourage folks to read it--it tells an amazing story about race, history,  Newark, sports, politics, drugs, capitalism, education, and poverty, among other things. 

Enjoy the tournament!

All best,


*A note: I am by no means a tee-totaler, as those who have shared an ice-cold Corona or Blue Moon ale with me can attest, but I think it is inappropriate for Coors Light to serve as a sponsor for a tournament with a high school youth component. Further, the Recreation Division of our city, which is operating under a cloud right now because of the fraudulent and illegal permit applications it was handing out to businesses and residents for the Plainfield Independence Day activities (and for which the City Council is still awaiting a full accounting), is a sponsor of the annual memorial basketball tournament, along with the Plainfield Public School District. I feel that having a municipality and a school system as promoters of youth events alongside alcohol purveyors sends the wrong message to our young people—many of whom I have seen drinking alcoholic beverages in public around the city—particularly in the library park area. In my humble opinion, it would make more sense to have a NON-alcoholic beverage company—preferably a sports drink company—serve as a major sponsor for youth activities in our city. I enjoy basketball, but I think a little more reflection on the part of the city of Plainfield as well as the district school board is required before co-sponsoring youth activities with alcoholic beverage companies. Be that as it may, I hope that fees due to the city (if any) are collected directly by the clerk’s office, as there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding Recreation’s operations.     


  1. Ethics and propriety have never been the strength of Recreation.

  2. no Coors light signs will be in the building.. if so they will be covered like previous years... its easy to say get a sports drink to sponsor, but not easy to do. . Coors has sponsored all 16 yrs, frm the park on Madison to rahway n back to the hs where its held now...

  3. Anonymous at 11:56 am:

    Just because it has been past practice doesn't mean that deep moral reflection on its continuance shouldn't occur. I am assuming you are a part of the event, since you have detailed knowledge of how the event signage inside the school works--however, your commentary is contradictory: "no Coors light signs will be in the building.. if so they will be covered like previous years..." Which is it? Also, I am pretty certain that if the Coors Light folks were to find out that no signs were visible on school grounds or in the building, they would wonder why they are sponsoring the activity--the whole point is to get folks to see the advertisement.

    You do not touch on my real comment, which has to do with the ethical concerns of having an alcoholic beverage company sponsoring youth activities. Would it be all right with the school district and the city to have Phillip Morris or Liggett or some other cigarette company sponsor? I view this as the same thing. Also, regarding your other comment about the difficulty in getting a sports drink to sponsor, as well as noting that Coors has done it for 16 years--well, that suggests to me that greater effort should be placed on finding new beverage sponsors--their has been a veritable explosion of drink companies in the recent years--I mean, there are scores of new ones. Sixteen years with one sponsor--"old dependable"--insert Coors Light--I think it is time for a newer and better paradigm for our young people.

    Again, don't misunderstand--I don't have a problem with beer companies sponsoring events, as a clearly stated in my note--the issue of concern that I expressed had to do with our city and our school district giving the stamp of approval on this being appropriate for youth events.



  4. Rebecca,

    You are so right!

    That's one thing wrong with this city and why keep going down the same WRONG path. Many people in power think that because we have done it before (even unsuccessfully), that we need to keep doing it.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason and truth.

  5. Dave wynn tried to force QCBL to reveal their sponsors under the guise of making sure they had no alcohol/tobacco signage. Come to find out it was just a way to get the sponsors for his own inept league. But yet he lists the Coors sponsored Gee Gee Brown Tournament as an event sponsored by recreation. Just goes to show you some people with power doesn't necesarily mean they'll be fair across the board.

  6. And we wonder why alcoholism (alcohol – the gateway drug) is so high in the urban communities; we are programming it into their young minds at an early age. Does this surprise anyone? Typical Plainfield.