Growing up in Coney Island seemed to be no easy task. For many, basketball may have been the only way out. For Russell, Tchaka, Stephon, and Cory it was the way out. It was a way for them to escape the rough environment and the poverty stricken streets that they were forced to reside in during their youth. Though each individual had their own destinies, the game of basketball was their release. It kept them from falling victim to the violence of the neighborhood and the almost certain failure that many of their peers eventually endured.
As the author implied, basketball was the only way to escape the poverty and crime of Coney Island. I believe in some ways that could have been true, but overall there are many other ways to overcome such adversities other than playing the game of basketball. Basketball may have kept them level headed and out of trouble, but as we see the sport did not prepare them for the game of life.
Though Stephon went on to have a professional career in the NBA, his peers weren’t as lucky. Basketball for them was just a simple means of a way out of Coney Island which they all received an opportunity at because of the sport, but apparently none of them seemed to have had any back up plans incase all was to fail. I believe the game may have been a major distraction to Corey, Tchaka, and Russell. They never prepared themselves to not make it to the NBA, which left them all with nothing to fall back on.
I do think basketball is a valid option for most students to escape poverty, but without the talent and character of someone like Stephon, getting drafted to the NBA is virtually impossible. Basketball may open a few doors but there’s still no guarantee. There’s a responsibility to knowing yourself and when it’s time to start taking other things such as the degree’s that can be earned because of the sport seriously. As the story implies, and in this case in particular, there were four and only one went all the way. Corey went on to working for his father’s plumbing business. Tchaka ended up working janitorial in Las Vegas making $8.50 an hour while trying to provide for his fiancé and son. Lastly, Russell wound up, in what in my eyes appears to have committed suicide on the train tracks in San Clemente. Not what they dreamt of as Lincoln High basketball stars.
Coney Island was a place that often left people timid. The gangs, the drugs, and the more than often violence that took place on a regular basis, ultimately encourage these student-athletes to making a strong attempt on leaving Coney Island and escaping the poverty. Tchaka wanted bad to stay away from the area that he wasn’t quite used to coming from Jamaica Queens. People were more upscale there, so Tchaka wasn’t used to seeing cars being blown up on residential streets were people lived. Crack and cocaine were drugs that swept through Coney Island, and it was something the student’s mothers were proud their children didn’t do. A life like this was just something these four just wanted no part of.
Though many student-athletes may receive scholarships to go to college, I feel that Lincoln high school does not adequately prepare them for college. Lincoln High was not known for its academics, they were strictly base on athletics. Many of the players came to Lincoln High specifically to play for the basketball team itself. They had one of the best programs in the PSAL. Most players that had the talent would get by on the fact that they were star players on the basketball team, sort of like special treatment as some would call it.
The relationship between academics and basketball at Lincoln high was a very personal one. As the story implied, the head coach of Lincoln High actually agreed to stay at Lincoln for as long as Stephon was a player. That’s what ultimately persuaded Stephon to go to Lincoln High. Also in the story, Stephon had mentioned that he was going to hit up the coach for money for lunch and things of that nature, money that Stephon was certain that he was going to get. Most of the faculty knew what basketball meant to the school, and so did majority of the athletes that went to Lincoln. They knew that they had the best chances at Lincoln to escape the poverty of Coney Island.