In recognition of the fact that many of its students come from cultures totally unfamiliar with sports like baseball, football, and basketball, New York City's Department of Education has added cricket to its list of athletic offerings. The response is overwhelming. Instead of the expected 4 to 5 teams, 14 schools have formed teams. 600 students are involved. The 14 teams are split into two leagues, each team will play 12 matches, and there will be a championship in May.
New York City, more than many other areas in our nation, experiences a great deal of immigration. Through out history, wave after wave of immigrants have come to New York to start new lives. In recent times, many of the ethnic groups to arrive in numbers in New York have been from the Caribbean and South Asian.
Being an immigrant is difficult. Things that the native population take for granted can seem very strange and alien to new immigrants. That is the situation faced by immigrant students in New York City's public schools. Sports, which are such a positive and integral part of the American school experience, are an uncomfortable challenge for many of the new population. Young people from the Caribbean and South Asia have not played baseball, basketball, and football in peewee leagues. The have not spent hours watching baseball, basketball, and football on television. They have not played pickup games of baseball, basketball, and football in back yards and in local parks. Their sports experience is different. Cricket is their game.
In the past the term used to describe blending of cultures in our nation was "melting pot," but now our multi-ethnic society is more accurately described as a "mixed salad." In a "mixed salad," each ethnic group brings something special to the mix. Let's toss a little cricket in that salad. It will only make it tastier.