Notes on midnight basketball and the cultural politics of recreation, race, and at-risk urban youth

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66 Scopus citations

Abstract

A decade ago, dozens of American cities began to organize late-night basketball leagues for young men in mostly minority, inner-city neighborhoods. These so-called midnight basketball leagues initially enjoyed widespread public support; however, in the mid-1990s, they became the focus of intense controversy and debate. This article offers a grounded, critical overview. Midnight basketball is first described as part of the “social problems industry” that emerged in public recreation provision in the 1990s. The author then suggests that these programs are best understood in the context of contemporary political discourse and public policy regarding at-risk urban youth, and crime, delinquency, and public safety more generally. Midnight basketball's racial roots and contours become central with respect both to the ideological consensus underlying contemporary American conceptions of crime and risk as well as the multiple and competing visions of cause and intervention. The article concludes by noting the starkly different perceptions of program participants themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-371
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Sport & Social Issues
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2001

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