Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Paterson Game Where Both Teams Lost

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Paterson Game Where Both Teams Lost

Article excerpt

Last week, they played a boys basketball game at Eastside High School in Paterson. Eastside played Kennedy High School, also of Paterson. Remarkably, Paterson lost.

According to reports from the gym, the Eastside Ghosts lost the game on the court, 63-60, to archrival Kennedy, but the bigger losers were all the players, fans and students who care about city teams, about city schools, and about Paterson in general.

The loss of that game - and by "that," I mean the loss of excitement for the kids, primarily, due to a last-minute district decision to restrict gym access to only players, coaches and their families or guardians, and other selected individuals - robbed those young athletes, who work and sweat in practice, the thrill of playing in front of their homegrown fans.

Among those fans was Ron Forbes, a 38-year-old Eastside alumnus who told Paterson Press he hadn't missed an Eastside-Kennedy basketball game in 20 years.

"This isn't right," Forbes said as he stood outside the gym.

Ever since I saw the story about the game in the paper Wednesday morning, I have tried to figure out the reasoning. It makes no sense to me.

Maybe the intentions were good.

Maybe the thought of safety for all was foremost, given the cloud that has enveloped the Eastside team and its coaches in recent days.

Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges said he had heard there had been "an unsavory atmosphere created both on social media and in other places, and the principal thought it was in the best interest to put this structure in place."

There had also been the possibility, according to one schools official, of "distractions" at the game, but this last-minute lockout of fans and ordinary citizens from seeing this game of rivals only adds insult to injury.

Yes, the Eastside program has been under a microscope of late. There are multiple investigations regarding serious allegations that six Eastside players from overseas may have been living in their coach's condo.

The district was right to suspend coach Juan Griles and assistant coach Al Maldonado as the investigations go forward. But closing out the public and the media this way is not going to help anyone. …

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