Op-Ed | Doing the right thing: The Coney is helping kids, while critics are out of touch with community

the coney
Brooklyn USA Basketball’s summer clinic would not be running without support from The Coney, writes Ken Fitzpatrick.
Rendering courtesy of The Coney

I was disappointed to read Mr. Shirayanagi’s critique of The Coney’s sponsorship of Brooklyn USA Basketball’s summer clinic and tournament taking place in Coney Island. As the Director of Operations for Brooklyn USA Basketball, I can say unequivocally that this program would not be taking place AT ALL were it not for  this sponsorship. We are always proud of those who step up and decide to give back to the community and seeing hundreds of kids  have an opportunity to do learn, train, and play in a positive setting  is a massive win for everyone. 

Brooklyn USA Basketball conducts clinics and tournaments around  the borough supported by a variety of sponsors who are generous  enough to help fund the work that we do. That support ensures that  for many of our programs, the children don’t have to pay a single  dime to participate. Sponsors also routinely provide us with shirts  and other gear for the participants, which helps promote  transparency (so it is crystal clear who we are working with).  

It also ensures no kid feels left out because they may not have the same level of apparel as the others. No child has ever been turned  away from our activities because they didn’t want to wear a  sponsor’s shirt, and that policy will never change. At the end of the day, this basketball clinic has been known to change lives,  encourage children to seek higher education, and match them up 

with mentors who are willing to help with issues outside of  basketball. This is bigger than the t-shirts we wear.  

This organization offers a place where we foster community and  growth, so to see our priority—the children—overlooked and our  organization distilled down to who is offering these kids gear is  disappointing. I suspect had they sponsored the program in secret  we would be accused of colluding behind the community’s backs.  We connected with The Coney’s team because they heard the desire  from the community for them to be involved and give back.  

They wanted to work with us because they knew how beneficial this  program would be and how having a long-term FREE summer  basketball clinic and tournament for the youth would be a big win  for the Coney Island community. 

Ken Fitzpatrick is the Director of Operations at Brooklyn USA Basketball