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Hoops – Cross City Finals

By: Paolo Cisneros
Published: September 22, 2015

For Jahari Jones, the recent Hoops in the Hood citywide finale tournament represented something far more important than basketball. “It’s a competitive event, but at the end of the day we’re all here for the same goal,” he said. “It shows unity throughout the city; that we can all come out, have a great time and show great sportsmanship.”

Jahari Jones at the annual Hoops in the Hood citywide tournament at Seward Park.

Photo by Gordon Walek

Jones, 24, coordinates the Hoops program in his home community of South Chicago. Given the immense popularity of the annual program, that responsibility is no small task.

Founded by Pilsen’s The Resurrection Project in 1999, Hoops in the Hood has since expanded to 14 neighborhoods throughout the city. The program calls on community organizers to host weekly summer basketball tournaments as an outlet for youth and community building.

While the games are usually the main attraction, families have been known to host cookouts alongside the courts. Community organizations speak with residents about local concerns. Neighbors, if only for a while, shed their fear of violence and connect on a meaningful level.

“It takes a lot of work to pull off the program week after week,” said LISC Chicago Deputy Director Keri Blackwell. “But every year, neighborhood leaders come back, demonstrating a real commitment to the kids in their community. The media often cover stories about the kids that make bad choices, but there are a lot of really good kids across Chicago making good choices who deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”

Every year, the summer of basketball culminates in a citywide tournament. This year’s major, minor and pee wee division champions were, respectively, North Lawndale, Englewood and Near North.

While the winners were undoubtedly elated at their accomplishments, organizers like Jones said the program’s true value comes in the relationships fostered throughout the summer.

“The most rewarding part is to see the players being active in the community and helping out; to see them helping younger kids practice and learn the sport of basketball,” he said.

Since its inception, Hoops in the Hood has been generously sponsored by State Farm Insurance. The organization’s reliable support has allowed for thousands of young Chicagoans to find a sense of belonging through the program.

Posted in Areas of Work, Neighborhoods

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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