CLEVELAND — As Cleveland continues to struggle with a shortage of police officers, city officials look for new ways to reduce crime. One concept involved getting young people off the streets and onto the court.
What You Need To Know
- The city of Cleveland is looking for new ways to reduce crime
- Hoops After Dark is one part of the city's plans to keep young people off the streets
- The program's championship game was played on the same court where the Cleveland Cavaliers play
The six-week program, which culminated this week, gave men ages 18-36 a chance to feel like NBA all-stars.
The program involved tryouts to form eight teams, and those teams competed over multiple weeks in an NBA-style basketball tournament.
But the program involved more than just basketball.
Before each game, players were required to attend workshops to learn certain life skills, being job ready and being financially stable.
Selassie Wilson tried out for the program after hearing about it from his brother who also took part.
"At first, it was just for basketball, but as time went along we got introduced to the workshops and networking with different people," said Wilson. “It’s just helping uplift the community and bring us together."
The program was part of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb’s comprehensive violence prevention strategy.
“Programs like midnight basketball have long shown to reduce crime in many cities across the country,” Bibb said courtside at the championship game for Hoops After Dark on Monday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. “It should feel, residents of the city feel optimistic that we’re giving these young leaders active things to do to get involved in their community and knowing that these programs can truly make a difference.”