Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ratner's Exceptional Project

Yesterday the Alliance's Richard Lipsky testified on behalf of the Atlantic Yards project at the MTA. FCRC has retained him to organize grassroots support in the amateur athletic community for the development. As part of this effort he is working with a broad base of community and sports leaders to establish the Brooklyn Amateur Sports Alliance (BASA).

The BASA already has the support of over 60 amateur sports and community groups in the borough. There is a strongly held belief that the Nets coming to Brooklyn presents the amateur sports community with a unique opportunity to enhance their work with the borough's boys and girls. They are absolutely correct.

We have already gotten the commitment of FCRC to partner with the BASA in the promotion of amateur sports in Brooklyn. This commitment, however, goes way beyond simple hooping. The BASA plans to not only promote athletic events (Like the upcoming borough-wide basketball tourney that we are planning), but to find ways to use the passion that the youth of the borough have for sports to promote academic achievement, clean drug-free life styles, and career goals.

FCRC is not supporting the BASA out of a purely altruistic motivation, even though no one here will ever question Bruce Ratner's charitable impulses. The support of the BASA is derived from the best instincts of enlightened self-interest. The Nets are coming to Brooklyn without any fan base. The promotion of the amateur athletic community and the concomitant use of sports to help young people to better succeed in life will, at the same time, help the Nets in the creation of an enthusiastic fan base in Brooklyn. It’s the classic win-win situation.

This is what makes the project exceptional for us. The basketball team will act as a catalyst for community by bringing the borough together across racial and ethnic lines. The Nets, working with the BASA, will also act as a positive force for the education and socialization of Brooklyn's young people. These factors, if utilized properly, have the potential to be a greater force for good in the borough than even the jobs and the housing that the project itself will undoubtedly create.