Cardozo's Shadmaan Khan is far from alone. Kids attending public schools across the five boroughs are waiting for the powers that be to provide an answer on a basketball season.
Published: 2021-05-13 10:38 pm
Lack of answers has PSAL NYC basketball teams wondering if they will play
nypost.com

Shadmaan Khan spent the COVID-19 pandemic waiting and hoping. He was determined to make the most out of his last year of varsity basketball.

The Cardozo High School senior found ways, without access to a gym, to work on his game and stay in shape. Plus, his height shot up to 6-foot-5. Meanwhile, New York City made positive strides in controlling the pandemic.

Khan had been hopeful he could play his way into a college scholarship. But now, he’s unsure if he’ll even get an opportunity to wear a Cardozo jersey again.

“It’s frustrating,” he said in a phone interview. “I just want to play. For me, basketball is basically everything. It’s going to help me get further in life.”

Khan is far from alone. Kids attending public schools across the five boroughs are waiting for the powers that be to provide an answer on a basketball season.

In late March, it was announced basketball teams could begin conditioning on April 5 and start practicing outdoors on April 26 with games set to begin May 15. New York City health authorities and the mayor’s office had determined that high-risk sports, like basketball, had to be played outside for health reasons, adding new obstacles to planning the spring season. Outdoor sports such as baseball, soccer and football have either already resumed or are close to doing so.

(image)
Ron Naclerio, Cardozo’s head boys basketball coach, speaks to a group of 50 people during a rally earlier this year calling to high school sports play in NYC.
Dennis A. Clark

A shortened season minus the playoffs was supposed to begin on Saturday in what the league termed “competitions” rather than games.

But some coaches say there has been silence for the past two months. No schedule has been released. Locations remain uncertain.

“People are able to play outdoor games in the summer, and it does work, so why can’t the city make this work?” said Josh Krinsky, coach of WHEELS in Washington Heights. “You’ve had literally all year. We know it’s safer outdoors than indoors. …. I don’t think there will be anything substantial that will happen with basketball.”

In a statement, a Department of Education spokesperson said there will be a spring basketball season, citing that practices already are underway.

“The PSAL team is coordinating with the Parks Department, and we will have more details to share on basketball competitive play timelines soon,” the statement said.

When asked to clarify a starting date, the spokesperson said: “We will have more details to share on basketball competitive play timelines soon.”

The DOE declined to make anyone directly involved available, despite repeated requests. Boys basketball coordinator Danny Harris directed questions to the DOE. Coaches are in the dark.

“The kids are asking us questions, and we don’t have an answer for them,” said Rob Phelps, the coach at Bedford Academy in Brooklyn. “I’m trying to keep them ready. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Said Krinsky: “It’s about to be May 15, and there’s no schedule, no planning, nothing has been communicated. Kids are graduating in five, six weeks. They’re doing the same sport in other places and they’re not able to do it here. Sadly it’s not that surprising.”

As Krinsky said, Long Island public and Catholic schools held their seasons. New York City’s Catholic League is playing a spring season, outside of the city limits, at Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains. There was a basketball season in Westchester County. There have been AAU tournaments in the city. Public school players, at least those who don’t have a summer team, have been left behind.

“You know how many games are being played in gyms [in New York City]? The Gauchos are running tournaments nonstop [at their gym in The Bronx],” Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio said. “How come you can walk in Gauchos Gym, take your temperature, put on hand sanitizer, and play there, but you can’t walk into a high school and do the same thing? It really is sad. They are hurting kids.”

A handful of schools have opted out of whatever season ends up happening. Rob Diaz, an assistant coach at John Bowne, which is one of those schools, said the negatives outweigh the positives. Between the risk of injuries playing on the hardtop in a fractured season without playoffs and the uncontrolled environments at public parks, it wasn’t worth it.

“It was counterproductive for us,” said Diaz, whose players will instead spend the time with their respective AAU programs. “I just think that we’re too late.”

Several coaches have suggested that PSAL officials reach out to local summer tournament organizers about playing games or tournaments at their sites since they have experience doing so. Rob Moses, who runs the It’s More Than a Game tournament at St. Albans Park in Queens, heard from Harris last week about being used as the site supervisor, providing security and equipment, but he was told Harris first had to speak to the mayor’s office. They haven’t talked since.

“I don’t think they’re too sure what they are going to do,” Moses said.

Even though it’s already May and the spring postseason has been canceled, Naclerio still believes playing is the way to go. It would at least create positive momentum toward holding a normal season next year, and give kids something to look forward to.

“I don’t want to be politically correct. I just want to be correct, and the correct thing to do is to give the kids something,” Naclerio said. “Something is still better than nothing.”

Even worse, Naclerio believes, not having a season could be detrimental to players’ futures.

“We’re losing kids to the streets. We’re losing kids to the gangs,” he said. “We have kids becoming SCL’s — street-corner losers.”

Read Full Story

Yankees’ season suddenly in the danger zone

nypost.com - 8 months ago
It happens this quickly, like a flash flood ruining a sunny afternoon. One day you feel invincible, bulletproof, you’re bashing baseballs all over ballyards, you’re three wins out of three playoff games, it feels like you’re just starting to feel your
Read More

March Madness predictions, odds: Take underdogs UCLA and USC

nypost.com - 3 months ago
Two of VSiN’s top college basketball handicappers drill into Tuesday’s Elite Eight action. No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 11 UCLA Tuley: Very few people had UCLA in the Elite Eight coming out of a “First Four” play-in game as a No. 11 seed (and I challenge anyone
Read More

New book reveals how to win friends and influence in post-COVID 2021

nypost.com - 1 month ago
Prior to the pandemic, Jon Levy was best known as the founder of the Influencers Dinner, a regular roving dinner party of A-listers pulled from different industries.
Read More

Cause of fire that killed Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh still a mystery: officials

nypost.com - 5 months ago
Connecticut authorities Tuesday said they are still unsure whether Zappos founder Tony Hsieh accidentally or intentionally set the fire that killed him. The troubled online-shoe-company creator perished from smoke inhalation while in a storage shed on a
Read More