COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Usually basketball leagues involve several teams all playing against each other.
That’s true with a new outdoor league in Columbus, but in a way, all the players are also on the same team. They all want the violence in Columbus to stop.
“We’re here for a good purpose,” said Stefan Done, a player on the ‘Columbus Fatherhood’ team.
Recognizing Columbus is on pace to have its most homicides in a year, Laura Gordon and her husband decided they had to do something. They brainstormed and are now organizing what they’re calling, ‘Friday Night Lights, A Stop The Violence Outdoor Basketball League.’
Friday night was the first night.
Games will be played from about 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday nights during the summer. Organizers hope it gives players, fans, kids, teens, young adults, and families something safe and fun to do so they don’t get into trouble.
“That’s the main purpose of what we wanted to do out here was pretty much just kind of open up and just show them there’s men and women you can reach out to, kind of give them some mentorship,” said Laura Gordon.
“There’s going to be some nice people that maybe you can tap on the shoulder and say hey I like what you did on the court can you show me how to do that.” There’s also food and other resources families might need.
On Friday, several professional athletes originally from central Ohio helped give out hundreds of brand new pairs of shoes to kids. “It makes you feel good. I’m one of those people, when you look good you feel good. I think a new pair of shoes just puts you in the mood that I can do better, it’s motivation to want to be around your peers.” said Gordon.
The Columbus Division of Police is also involved. Some officers are playing in the league. Organizers and police hope that helps with police community relations. The league will play each Friday until August 27 on the outdoor courts by the Scioto Southland Community Center.
“This is going to have a great, great effect. One of the reasons why is because you see the young and you see the old. We’re bridging the gap,” said Dunn. “We all are here and with the police being here too, trying to bridge that gap too.”
Prizes will be given out each week and there’s a grand prize at the end. The winning team is set to get $4,000 for a charity of its choice.