Youth basketball league canceled, town cites safety concerns, lack of facilities

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News

Black Mountain canceled the town's youth basketball league this year after citing safety concerns and a lack of adequate facilities to ensure the league's success. 

"It really was out of safety," said Josh Henderson, the director of the town's Recreation and Parks department. "We just don't have access to the facilities that we need to run a successful basketball league." 

Since the town doesn't have a community center or a gym, the league utilizes schools in the area for games and practices. Henderson said the elementary and primary schools are the main resource for the league as the other schools have teams practicing during the year.

The problem is that the hoops the league would need to use cannot be adjusted and remain at the fixed height of 10 feet. For the younger members of the youth league, this presents a significant challenge in terms of height. 

Henderson said the town installed drop down rims, roughly 70 pounds apiece, that require a staff member to go up on a ladder to adjust each day. After reviewing the town's insurance policy, Henderson said the situation presents a liability to the employee doing the adjustments. 

"There's always the risk that these things fall during a game or practice," he said. 

In a good year, Henderson said the league has 140-150 kids sign up. The Black Mountain league partners in conjunction with the city of Asheville to provide enough teams for a full season. 

"COVID was rough for us for a lot of reasons, but it also gave us time to sit back and look at our programs and do some evaluations," Henderson said. 

When it came time to look at the youth basketball league, with safety in mind, Henderson didn't think the league was a good option. 

Henderson had pitched the idea to replace the fixed goals in the elementary schools with adjustable hoops a few years ago, but the schools weren't interested, he said. Henderson said he understood, the cost was high and it would've required work from both the school and the department. 

"We will be running our adult league," Henderson said. "Our adult leagues are on Sundays, and we play at the middle school."