Toronto

'Let the kids play': Raptors staffer calling on TDSB to keep basketball nets up after school

A Toronto Raptors staffer wants to make sure that local kids’ hoop dreams stay alive by stopping the practice at some schools of taking basketball nets down outside of classroom hours.

Board says each school can make decisions about protecting nets from theft and vandalism

Luke Galati, a staffer with the Toronto Raptors, wants the basketball nets he played on as a kid outside Earl Grey Senior Public School to be kept up outside school hours. (Luke Galati/Change.org)

A Toronto Raptors staffer wants to make sure that local kids' hoop dreams stay alive by stopping the practice at some schools of taking basketball nets down outside of classroom hours.

Luke Galati, an associate producer with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's documentary unit, says he grew up shooting hoops behind Earl Grey Senior Public School near Pape and Danforth in the city's Greektown neighbourhood.

But in recent years, the school has started taking the rims down after 3 p.m.

"What was once a constant place for the community to play basketball is now just a brick wall with two empty backboards without a hoop to shoot on," Galati writes in a Change.org petition aimed at encouraging the Toronto District School Board to keep basketball nets up for the public to use outside of school hours, particularly in the summer.

"Even this past weekend, with the weather warming up in the city, I saw a group of teenagers playing on the street," he writes. "They were dribbling around while pretending to have a net to shoot on, all within viewing distance of what used to be a hoop."

Galati writes that he asked the school about its policy to remove the nets, and was told the nets can't be kept up "because it's a safety concern."

A spokesperson for the TDSB said Thursday the board is asked about the basketball rims every couple of years. There is no board-wide procedure governing the nets and rims, according to Ryan Bird. Each school is free to make its own decision.

"In general however, some schools do take down rims and/or nets as they have been damaged or stolen in the past leaving students without a basketball net," Bird wrote in an email to CBC Toronto.

"In the end, we want to ensure that our students are able to use these resources during the school day."

In follow-up correspondence with CBC, Bird noted that members of the public who want to play basketball can do so elsewhere.

'Let the kids play'

So far, Galati's petition has racked up more than 340 signatures. His goal is 500.

"I want to change this and help provide the next generation and anyone from the neighbourhood the same constructive outlet that made a huge difference in my life," he writes.

"What type of message as a society does it send, if we don't provide opportunities for the next generation to be successful, grow and thrive?"

Galati says he has a meeting scheduled with the principal of Earl Grey, as well as the local trustee.

In the meantime, Galati has enjoyed support on social media, with Twitter users re-tweeting his petition with messages of support like, "Let the kids play."

With files from Adrian Cheung and Derick Deonarain

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