Streetball was bred on the asphalt of playgrounds throughout our communities across the country. It’s part of our culture. A summer ritual. During the NBA’s offseason, many of America’s biggest hoopstars embrace the opportunity to partake in an old school game of pickup. NBA ballers return to their old neighborhoods, to some of the same courts they dominated as youngsters, to showcase their talents. They dazzle fans with a plethora of uncensored moves that are usually forbidden during the NBA season. It’s a spectacle for sure, and worth experiencing, but I caution you, taking in a game is not without risk. A supposed friendly game of basketball is sometimes doomed by bitter and deadly shootouts.
In fact, it’s one of the main reasons I don’t attend streetball tournaments despite having the famed Rucker Park in my backyard. This summer, Nate Robinson was in attendance when a shooting took place. Thankfully he was unharmed, but at least five other bystanders were less fortunate.
Sports is a game of passion. We love to see someone’s competitive spirit kick into overdrive when the game is on the line. But that same passion also spurs negativity. It can bring out the worst in people, and gun violence is sometimes a byproduct of that frustration. However, when the topic of gun violence is broached, mainstream media misleads us to believe our biggest concerns involve the mentally ill and premeditated mass murders as seen in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT. Not to trivialize the innocent and defenseless lives lost in those mass shootings, but gun violence has plagued black communities forever. Daily.
Dime Magazine, an ultimate resource among basketball fans, felt compelled to make a difference and try to put a stop to the gun violence in our communities, but particularly in Chicago, where it’s rampant. Back in July, the publication launched a line of basketball apparel consisting of t-shirts and shorts called, “Shoot Jumpers. Not Guns.” Considering gun control is currently a high priority, Dime announced the re-release of the line of t-shirts in additional colorways. All proceeds from the sale, yes 100%, goes toward refurbishing basketball courts, providing free clinics in urban areas , providing security for existing leagues, and promoting literacy.
Dime’s initiative won’t single-handedly solve our problems, but the need for change is so dire, every little bit helps. The t-shirts, which have been worn by Chicago’s Simeon and Whitney Young High Schools, start at $22, and the shorts start at $50.
The offerings are limited, but it’s for a good cause. Click here for more info and options.
In related news, yesterday it was reported President Obama plans to visit his beloved city of Chicago to discuss its ongoing gun violence, as part of a three-city tour following tonight’s State of the Union address. President Obama’s scheduled visit comes days after Michelle Obama attended the funeral for Hadiya Pendleton, 15, who was killed one week after performing at the President’s inauguration.
In 2012, Chicago posted one of its deadliest years, and 2013 hasn’t started off any differently. The rates in which bodies are dropping is alarming and heartbreaking. Bullets are striking down people of all ages, and unfortunately, the public outcry from parents and community activists seemingly fell on deaf ears at the federal level. However, following the Newtown, CT shooting, the nation’s attention shifted toward gun control. President Obama immediately spoke out about the urgent need for change, and challenged government officials to get on board with his new agenda. A reactive approach indeed, that’s long overdue and inexcusable. But it’s also a relief to see him finally move into action and devote time to this matter. Remaining idle as more and more lives are lost isn’t an option. Let’s hope Obama’s plan, and the grassroots efforts by Dime Magazine, the NFL, and other organizations will make a difference and save lives.