The new Atlanta Midnight Basketball league is already in its second season this year.
City officials hope the league’s efforts will help reduce crime in Atlanta neighborhoods.
The idea of Midnight Basketball as a way to prevent crime has been embedded in many neighbors across the country for decades.
At first, the CT Martin Gym bleachers didn’t have many spectators, but the music was bouncing off the hardwood. The players were warming up on the court.
The league allows players between the ages of 18 and 25 to register to play games. Akil Shaw, 21, is a resident of the Adamsville neighborhood and at Morehouse University.
Shaw joined the league with friends to stay out of trouble and set an example for others like him.
“Focus your energy on something else…come and do an organized sport,” he said. “Do something other than stand; that’s how you get into stuff.
Atlanta Police Department Sgt. Vincent Sims says the league’s goal is to help young people stay positive and connected to the neighborhood.
“What’s great is that it’s not just about recreation. But I think, more importantly, we want to take these young men and mentor them,” he said.
Sergeant Sims is also part of the Police Athletic League (PAL), and the games are a way for him to build relationships with the players. It then helps them connect to JOBS and other community resources.
As the game continued, more and more residents of the Adamsville neighborhood arrived.
Most are there simply to watch basketball as an evening pastime, including spectator Johnny Clark.
Clark hopes the league will continue to be a positive outlet for young men.
“I’m ready for it to hit every part of the city because the whole city needs it,” he said.
The league has thirteen games to play this season, and games are not at midnight but every Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.