This season, thanks to a donation from the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, athletes at 12 high schools in Portland, Ore., were treated to freshly refinished gymnasium floors.
"A lot of those courts had not been touched for over 20 years and were in pretty rough shape," says Traci Rose, Vice President of Community Relations for the Trail Blazers. "There were divots, peeling, and all sorts of damage."
The gift was just one of several contributions from a consortium of area businesses working to provide equal funding for high school facilities across the district. "Some of the schools in our district's high poverty areas have a difficult time maintaining their facilities and gathering monetary support," says Rose. "Private funding from corporations and individuals is now helping these schools upgrade their sports facilities, from tracks to stadiums to indoor venues."
The Portland Public School Board's decision to accept the Blazers' donation, worth an estimated $600,000, was not without some criticism, however. Much of the concern centered on the stipulation that two Blazers logos appear on each refinished court. "This raises all kinds of questions about the reach of commercial advertising in our schools," Kari McFarlan, a member of the Coalition for Commercial Free Schools, told the Portland Oregonian. "Commercial influence in our schools is the result of strategic decisions to create brand loyalties at an early age. If we're opening the doors to corporations, where do we draw the line?"
But Board co-chair Dan Ryan told the Oregonian he was comfortable with the donation because "the disinvestment in schools and athletic facilities in particular has been catastrophic for the district." And Rose points out that the logos, which read "This Court Made Better By the Portland Trail Blazers," cover no more than three square feet of the floor. "They're on the sidelines," she explains. "And in some gyms, when the bleachers are pulled out, you can't even see them."
"I think it's great that Portland Public Schools will have their surfaces replaced," Brad Garrett, Assistant Executive Director of the Oregon School Activities Association, told the Oregonian. "If that means they have to have a logo, I have no problem [with it]."