By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
It’s not exactly NBA TV.
You won’t see LeBron James, Joel Embiid or Luka Doncic throwing down dunks or hitting three-pointers.
But perhaps there are some future Lebrons, Joels or Lukas in the making. Call it mini-NBA TV.
Parents wanting to see their children showing off their moves on the basketball court may now watch the games on livestreaming offered by the Ocean City Recreation Department.
Livestreaming of the Recreation Department’s community basketball league for kids in the third to eighth grades is yet another innovative way for parents and grandparents to share in their children and grandchildren’s lives in the COVID age.
Dan Kelchner, director of Ocean City Community Services, called it a “creative solution” for coping with the challenges of the pandemic.
“It’s one of the things where the unique circumstances of COVID allowed the Recreation Department and the community to get together to overcome something that presented itself as a problem,” he said.
The state’s COVID moratorium on large gatherings prevents parents and grandparents from attending the basketball games, which take place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ocean City Intermediate School.
As an alternative to watching the games in person, the Recreation Department borrowed the video equipment from the Intermediate School’s library to livestream the action.
“We’re getting positive comments from parents,” Recreation Supervisor Kristie Fenton said, adding that grandparents enjoy it, too.
A link is sent by the Recreation Department to the families for the livestreaming. The first games on Jan. 16 were not recorded. However, the department now plans to record the games, allowing the players to watch themselves after they get home, Fenton said.
Fenton characterized it as “phase one” of a broader livestreaming program that will also include the Recreation Department leagues for children’s indoor soccer and lacrosse.
Indoor soccer and lacrosse are coming up after the basketball league wraps up on Feb. 27. Registration for basketball is now closed, but the Recreation Department is opening it up for other sports. Visit ocnj.recdesk.com for details.
Children from Ocean City, Upper Township and Sea Isle City participate in the leagues, Kelchner and Fenton said.
In the past, the Recreation Department used the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center at Sixth Street and the Boardwalk for league games. The sports center, however, is under reconstruction now for an expansion project, so the basketball games are taking place at the Intermediate School.
“The only way we could do anything was through our continued collaboration with the school district,” Kelchner said of the help from the Intermediate School.
For sports and other activities for even younger children, the Recreation Department is offering the “Little Rec’ers” program Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Eighth Street Recreation Center in Ocean City.
Essentially, children between the ages of 3 and 5 from Ocean City, Upper Township and Sea Isle enjoy a half day of activities ranging from arts and crafts to sports, yoga and even science, Kelchner said.
In the past, there was a fee for the Little Rec’ers program, but the city is now offering it for free during the pandemic.
Sign-ups for the program are on a daily basis. Visit ocnj.recdesk.com for details.