Last week our community experienced a tragic and unfortunate turn of events which resulted in one of our own being hospitalized with extensive physical damage beyond repair. Although many have asked that we address that specific situation, there is a bigger issue that is not being addressed; we are attacking each other and it needs to STOP.
The Staten Island Ferry, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, taxi cabs, hot dog street vendors; Some things are just so quintessentially ‘New York’ they’re taken for granted. Like the sport of handball. This is a part of New York culture that is engrained within the very fabric that makes up our great city and its residents. Many of us find the 2000+ courts within our city as a refuge, an escape from our reality, our safe haven. Although the violent situation that happened last week was not isolated to handball players it’s necessary to bring to light the many issues we tend to ignore which lead to violent behavior and our youth being labeled as “criminals” within a system that does not allow for the improvement of circumstances.
While victimization is not an excuse, you have to identify the many disadvantages and challenges we face as individuals residing within the inner-city such as; poverty, income-inequality, school reform, the criminal justice system, aggressive policing, gentrification, unemployment, single-parent households, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, bullying, inadequate housing and chemically toxic environmental degradation (which affect us more than we know). I mention all that to say, we can’t explain a young person’s behavior simply by understanding their individual disadvantage but must account for our neighborhood influences as well, good and bad.
While always a favorite activity in low-income neighborhoods, the power of handball lies in its ability to serve as a platform for helping underprivileged kids, teens and young adults who are faced with challenges (which are exacerbated in concentrated poverty) learn important life skills while reaching their academic, athletic and social potential. It’s our responsibility, not just as an organization but as individuals to revive and uplift our people and communities within, not drag each other down. There is a real problem out there of youth delinquency and violence, especially among males, whose main reason for joining gangs is to find a family and male role models. Though handball may be one aspect of an individual’s life, we believe a set of strong core values can positively influence the individual, effectively influencing our community by focusing to foster a strong sense of community, respect, compassion, teamwork, and wellness. Wall Ball’s mission is to provide membership, tournaments, events and resources free of charge for all players that reside within the inner-cities in hopes to provide a safe haven where you can enjoy physical recreation while releasing the many stressors which are (for the moment) out of our control. In addition to free recreation we also encourage good sportsmanship, brotherhood and camaraderie. In closing, let’s not worsen these negative influences by attacking each other. Release your stress and aggression on the court, not by hitting one another but by hitting the ball against the wall while keeping in mind the many battles you already face indirectly just as a result of where you live.
President & CEO
The U.S. Wall Ball Association Inc.