The boys from the New York City PSAL are high school students. The league was established in 2008 as a way to involve more immigrant and second-generation youth into high school sports. Mostly immigrants, and children of immigrants from South Asia and the Caribbean play cricket in Marine Park. Although cricket originated in England, and is popular in Europe and Australia, the cricketers playing in Marine Park are predominantly minorities.
The American sport of basketball is played by every race, every gender, and people of all ages. That sentiment is not only true in Marine Park, but much of the world today. In Marine Park, however, immigrants as well as third and fourth generation Americans play the world known sport. Caribbean Americans to Italian Americans to Russian Americans were trying to show off their ball handling skills in Marine Park.
Who organizes the play?
The cricket we saw at Marine Park was organized. In other words, there were no “pick-up” games played and there were always brilliant white uniforms and pads donned by the players on each team. The New York City PSAL organizes play for high school cricket teams in Marine Park (Brooklyn), also Canarsie Park (Brooklyn), Kissena Park (Fresh Meadows, Queens), Baisley Pond Park (Queens), and Idlewild Park (Queens). It is odd that Marine Park has the only field in a Jewish neighborhood, although the cricket pitches have been set for at least 17 years [source] whereas the other parks are generally located inside immigrant hubs.
The basketball players in Marine Park, during the hours of 1 PM to 7 PM, mostly played pick up games orchestrated by the winners of the court. Any team, or group of players, was allowed to play, as long as they “held the court” for the next game
How do the locals like the sports?
The locals we talked to had much approbation for the sport. It’s different, and the locals seem to enjoy watching the sport from afar. Although a young girl did blurt out, “My brother hates it,” in the middle of her mother speaking of the sport as “Great” and loving the all white uniforms. Generally, locals avoid playing the sport and are distant spectators to the cricketers. But that’s one thing about Marine Park. As one local says, “Everyone’s doing their own thing, and it’s really nice, you know?”
Although it is a ubiquitous sport in all major cities in the United States, basketball still carries the stereotypes that drag down its reputation. Locals describe the basketball courts with slight apprehension. Many times the ball players will smoke cigarettes and even marijuana on the courts. Some tension is felt on the courts when tempers become flared. Overall though, basketball is viewed in a positive light and the park goers are pleased that the game assists in assimilation as well as involvement with the community.
Which sport is gaining more steam?
With the immersion of 26 teams in the New York City PSAL, almost double from the 14 introduced in the inaugural year of 2008, it would seem like Cricket has an edge. The most unfortunate thing we found in Marine Park, however, was that the cricket players are not so involved in the ebb and flow of the park’s dynamic. They only come when they have games in the field. They rarely, if ever, venture into the park because the cricket pitch is steps away from the parking lot and on the outskirts of Marine Park, adjacent to the marshes. Cricket may be growing in New York City, but it is not fitting into Marine Park productively, for now.
Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in America. Perhaps it’s the ease of access; all you need is a ball and a hoop. In cricket you need balls, bats, wickets, and a large number of players (a regulation cricket match is played with 11 fielders, one of whom is a bowler, and 2 batsmen on the opposing team). Basketball has earned a bad reputation as a “ghetto” sport carrying with it the unpopular tags of drugs, violence, gangs, guns, tattoos, and profanity. With that said, few things can stop a true baller’s love of the game. In Marine Park, it is a rare occurrence to see the courts empty on even a dreary day. Even the immigrants who play on the cricket team show their enthusiasm for shooting hoops; the same cannot be said about the everyday ballers.