Pick-up basketball put to a halt, hoops taken down

Jul 17, 2020

For the past few weeks dozens of people of all ages have gathered at the basketball courts near the Hammond School in Onset for pick-up games, dunk contests, and tournaments, but town officials have put a stop to the action for now, since the large crowds could potentially spread the coronavirus at a high rate. 

By Friday, July 17, basketball hoops around town had been taken down.

Organizers of Sunday Onset Pick-Up Aaron Strothers and Jordan Rezendes met with Police Chief John Walcek, Health Agent Robert Ethier, and a few other town officials earlier this week to discuss the potential health risks of continuing the program during the pandemic. 

While town officials ultimately decided that the program would have to stop for now, Strothers and Rezendes hope to bring it back once it is deemed safe to do so. 

“It was a great thing,” Rezendes said, as the program brought high level basketball players from around New England to Onset. 

It also featured food, a professional DJ, and several photographers and videographers.

Rezendes said that he wanted to thank everyone who came to support the program over the last few weeks. 

Strothers said that he tried to find a way to continue the program while taking more precautions against the coronavirus, such as limiting the crowd sizes, or even switching to shooting and solo drills rather than full games. 

Ultimately he said he was told that since basketball is a “high risk activity” during the pandemic, due to the physical contact and heavy breathing, the program would simply have to shut down for now.

Strothers said he understands concerns about having full-on basketball games, “that’s okay, we’ll wait till the next phase [of the reopening],” he said, but he added that taking down all of the hoops in town seemed to be unfair.

He said he would be willing to make a compromise by leaving just one hoop on each court, which has already been done in New Bedford.

This would “eliminate the full sport of basketball,” but still let people shoot around by themselves. With the hoops taken away, Strothers said that for example, a little kid wouldn’t even be able to play basketball at the park with their dad.

Strothers said that he is trying to reach a compromise with town officials, but he had not been able to get in touch with anyone on Friday.

He said that he and Rezendes had tried to take precautions in the past such as providing hand sanitizer and masks at the pick-up games. They also got approval from neighbors before bringing in a DJ.

Strothers and Rezendes said that they will comply with town guidelines, and hope to continue the basketball program at a later phase of the reopening. It is not clear exactly when Sunday Onset Pick-Up will continue, or when the hoops will be put back up.

Town officials were not immediately available for comment.