Basketball Courts at Eisenhower Park


Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

On Aug. 21, the Arcadia City Council voted 3-2 to eliminate the basketball courts at Eisenhower Park. Luckily, on Sept. 4, the city council passed a motion to bring back one of the basketball courts to Arcadia. However, the initial decision was not free from controversy. 

The basketball courts at Eisenhower were one of the most popular elements of the park, as they were filled with people who regularly played there. Whenever I went there to play with my dog, I saw groups of people playing on the courts. They never bothered anyone outside of the game, and they kept their game contained within the basketball area. I always felt that it was safe enough for my dog and me, as well as the rest of my family. When I saw players of different ethnicities and different cultures on the courts having fun together, it reminded me of the diversity of Arcadia (and America in general). 

So, it concerns me when the council chose to get rid of the courts. According to Mayor Pro Tem Roger Chandler, the courts attracted unauthorized and unsanctioned basketball games and tournaments and drove away picnickers at Eisenhower Park. He also stated that he “personally observed some of the folks [who play basketball], and they’re not the type that [he] would drive into Arcadia.” This comment caused outrage from residents and several protests at Eisenhower Park itself and at the city hall. 

“I think that there were underlying connotations,” stated Senior Sarah Wang. “I really think that [Mayor Chandler] needs to be held accountable and own some responsibility.”

Even though Mayor Chandler has apologized and claimed he did not intend to be racist, racism is still a part of the issue. In urban and suburban areas, basketball has historically played a big role in helping minorities find fun and an outlet for stress and for exercise, and here at Eisenhower Park, it’s no different. 

Some people argue that Mayor Chandler was justified in his actions. City staffers stated that Arcadia has been attempting to put an end to the tournaments for a while, ever since 2007. 

However, this still doesn’t mean that all of the basketball courts should be taken down. The tournaments, illegal or not, never brought any harm to any outsiders nor even people who were playing there. Not only that, but there are more ways to deal with these illegal tournaments than completely stripping away a source of fun and leisure for a large portion of Arcadians.

If we had gotten rid of the basketball courts, then we would ignore the Arcadians who enjoyed playing there, the Arcadians who help make this city diverse and beautiful. Mayor Pro Tem Mayor Chandler’s words show that that was the underlying “issue” of the courts. However, hopefully, Arcadia will learn its lesson, and basketball courts will stay without any disturbances, ensuring a happier and more equal city.