Monday, February 25, 2008

Phil Mushnick is Afraid of the Dark

To be honest, I almost see his point. True, in many cases you'd hate to see adolescents up late on school nights in crime ridden neighborhoods. But, in many cases, these things shouldn't be looked at in a vacuum.

Always the moral compass on all things sports-related, Phil Muschnick dedicated a column entitled ESPN, Schools Invite Trouble, to wagging his finger at school officials and the 4-Letter network for tipping off a nationally-televised game between Jersey City's St. Anthony's High School and American Christian of Pennsylvania at 9 PM on a school night.

"Thursday night's game, played on and for ESPN, tipped off at nine, after most high school games have ended, and ended at 10:35. Spectators, including high school kids - high school kids can reasonably be expected to attend high school games - then emptied the gym to travel the streets of Jersey City, shortly before 11 p.m. on a Thursday night."

After citing Jersey City crime statistics, he went on to ask the following, likely rhetorical questions:
  • Do you think that there's even one ESPN executive who would be eager to have his or her child out and about in Jersey City late on a winter's Thursday night?

  • Would even one of them allow their kids to invite such peril?

  • How many ESPN executives have walked the streets of Jersey City late at night, even once, the last 20 years?

  • How many ESPN execs, after scheduling Thursday night's high school game, would have allowed their kid to attend it?

What he notably neglected to include in his public service announcement was, 3 days after the game was played - when the column was printed, whether or not his fears were justified. Whether or not their were violent shoot outs as kids emptied the gyms into the dark, dangerous Jersey City streets.

Jersey City is a rough place, no doubt. But Mushnick, as he is prone to do, speculates with out substantiating. St. Anthony's basketball is among Jersey City's brighter spots. One that the community can rally around. What's wrong with having these "kids"cheering on their peers and feeling a sense of pride as their school and community is showcased on a national stage - 1 school night out of the year? Especially when, as far as we can tell, no one got killed on sight.

Barry Melrose covered Newark. Mushnick's got Jersey City. Who wants to tell us about how bad Camden and Trenton are?

Truth is, we know how bad they are, but give us a break when we highlight how positive they can be.

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