Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don’t they understand? IT IS DANGEROUS!

I am a tax consultant by profession. My policy is that I don’t write for the blog during this time unless I am caught up on my tax work. I’m ignoring that policy in this instance. I am angry!
I turned the TV on to watch the lead story for the 9:00 p.m. news on channel WGN from Chicago as I often do. During a commercial, I channel hopped to WEEK in Peoria. The station was showing the Bradley Braves basketball team playing in the first round of the NIT. Bradley was playing a home game at the Peoria Civic Center. There were about four minutes left in the game and Bradley was leading by 3 points. A Bradley player was driving with the ball when he slipped and lost control of the ball. The announcer declared, “Another slip!” “Another slip?” What did he mean by that?
Go back in time to last weekend. It is Friday evening and the 6:30 p.m. basketball game began at the Peoria Civic Center. It is the third game of the day for the first round of the Class A Boys’ Illinois State High School Basketball Tournament. I am at the game because my nephew is to be honored between the third and fourth game as one of the 100 Legends of Illinois Boys’ Basketball. Including me, there are three former basketball coaches in our group of eight.
During the game, basketball players from both teams were slipping on the court floor. I would estimate that players fell to the floor between 15 and 20 times during the game. Several other times a player lost control of the ball while slipping but did not fall. It is my guess that players of the losing team fell more often than players from the winning team. However, I was not counting the falls nor was I counting which team fell more often. Of this, I am certain. IT WAS DANGEROUS FOR THE PLAYERS ON THE COURT!
During the next few days, I tried to read every article written in the Peoria Journal Star about the Class A Tournament. By my count, there were 19 articles written about the Friday games and the tournament. Two articles began on the front page of the newspaper. A third article on page A12 was an alleged survey in which 5 of the 6 people quoted were opposed to the new four class system that begins next year. (Other articles also included comments by the writer of the article in opposition to the new four class system.) Two articles were on the front page of the Sports Section. Of the 19 different articles the only comment I could find concerning the dangerous floor condition was this sentence on page C6 of the Peoria Journal Star on March 10, 2007. “Throw in the problematic Carver Arena slick floor and the recipe was there for ugly basketball.”
“Problematic?” “Ugly basketball?” What? IT WAS DANGEROUS!!! A player could have been seriously injured because of the condition of the floor. Basketball was not and is not meant to be played on a floor where players are slipping and sliding and crashing to the floor. Are they trying to protect the city and the high school basketball association?
I also watched the first quarter of the second game. Before the game began, I was asked by one of the former coaches which team would most benefit from the floor condition. What kind of question is that? That should not have been a consideration. The floor should not have been in that condition. The playing surface of Carver Arena was dangerous for every player who played on that floor!
To sum up the reporting by the newspaper. One sentence in one story alluded to the dangerous condition of the floor. More concern was demonstrated over the change to a four class system than was shown over the floor situation. This got to me. The following was a paragraph in one of the stories printed on Saturday. It was on page A8. “>>>> >’>>>> (the name of an individual—my addition), whose niece cheers for Putnam County, walked around the Civic Center wearing an eclectic mix of yellow and black. She wore a basketball bopper headband over a yellow pompom wig, blinding yellow sunglasses and a black and gold boa. Pompoms completed the ensemble.” MORE SPACE FOR A FAN’S OUTFIT THAN MATERIAL DEALING WITH THE DANGEROUS CONDITION OF THE FLOOR! Where are the priorities of the writers and editors of the Peoria Journal Star?
I did not watch any of the Saturday games so I personally do not know if the dangerous condition continued into those games. But, I did read every article that I could find in the Sunday paper. There was one article that began on the front page. Two articles began on the front page of the Sports Section. There were a total of 15 articles written for the Sunday paper that I read. What was said about the condition of the floor? All I could find was the following: “Do Civic Center staffers wax the floor at Carver Arena with Pledge? There were more slips on court this weekend than you’ll find in a Baptist church on Easter morn. …Hmmm, George Jones will be in the Civic Center during the Class AA tourney. Don’t you think he’s a better fit this weekend?”
That’s it! One “cutesy” remark that completely ignores the obvious danger involved in such a situation. So much for any real reporting by these so called reporters. One of the individuals in our party, who has more knowledge of the Civic Center than I do, speculated that the problem was caused by the ice (hockey is also played there) underneath the basketball court. The only effort I witnessed of any attempt to alleviate the problem was the court being swept by the special brooms used on basketball courts. It didn’t seem to help much. It certainly didn’t stop the slipping, sliding, and falling!
Here are just a few of the questions that should be asked and need to be answered.
01) Has this ever happened before on this floor?
02) If so, what has been done, if anything, to solve the problem?
03) If so, and the problem has not been solved and obviously it has not been solved, why are they still playing games under such an adverse condition.
04) Is this a problem at other arenas that also have a floor over ice?
05) If it has never happened before, what is going to be done to prevent it from happening again? Obviously, not much was done successfully to stop the slipping during the NIT game.
06) Can it be prevented from happening again?
07) Why weren’t the games stopped?
08) Why was the physical wellbeing of minors being ignored or downplayed so that the games could be completed?
09) Has money overridden the safety factor?
10) Has money and basketball glory caused the educational community to turn their backs to the possible injury of their own students?
11) Has “March Madness” been turned into a maddening march for money?
12) Were there any violations of any federal, state, and/or local laws such as child endangerment and/or criminal neglect? Remember: some of the participants are minors.
13) Is this a law suit waiting to happen?
14) Is the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) going to allow Class A, AA, and next year AAA, and AAAA boys’ basketball to continue at the Civic Center under this unsafe condition?
15) Will the Class AA tournament which begins Friday be played under the same unsafe circumstance?
When I lived in Tucson, a basketball player, who had a scholarship to play basketball for Stanford University, was seriously injured after he was mobbed by an excited crowd after an important basketball victory. It only takes one time for a serious accident to occur. The likelihood of it happening is greater when the floor is in a treacherous, unsafe condition. The Civic Center needs to either insure that such an accident will not occur because of the condition of the floor or stop hosting high school basketball games. They do not have the right to endanger the physical wellbeing of minors!
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4: 17 (NIV)


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