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Checking Out Skid Row 3 on 3

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, September 03, 2007, at 03:22PM
Skid Row 3 on 3 Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Saturday marked the fourth week in the young Skid Row 3 on 3 basketball league's schedule. Games took place inside a hot Midnight Mission gym, with a good sized crowd out to sit in the bleachers and support the teams taking part. Standing inside watching the play, this might as well have been any gym and any league, and that says a lot.

League commissioner OG Man hit on the idea of a basketball tournament as part of the Father's Day event he put together this spring. The concept took off, resulting in the current 10-team league. The ten teams have four active roster spots each, but the league also includes almost 100 other guys who have signed up as Reserves, hoping to get picked up when a spot is available.

Every two weeks the venue switches between the Midnight Mission gym and Gladys Park, which OG considers the league's true home. Along with the players OG's found volunteer refs, gotten donated uniforms, and has people interested in putting together a cheerleading squad.

The Skid Row 3 on 3 league is about more than just basketball. OG wants to use the time to teach these guys about life. Each week, before games begin, the guys go through a word of the week. August 25th word was teamwork; Saturday's was determination. The league teaches the importance of sticking to your commitments -- if a guy misses a game an eager candidate from the reserves will take his place and he'll have to wait for another shot.

I watched the last couple games with Walter Melton, a resident who lives nearby. He wrote up this take on the experience:

The Skid Row Basketball League is not the end but the beginning, according to OG.

As I sat and talked with the man who formed the league, it was clear that he had a vision, and it was bigger than just basketball. The games and the league are just what bring the students to school. The basketball court is a venue, a forum on which he can teach concepts of life.

The league demands good sportsmanship from its players. Hopefully that then turns into good citizenship as the players leave the court. It is certainly noticed and implanted into the conscious minds and subconscious souls of the many kids that attend the games. The men become role models, for themselves as well as the young boys and girls that are present, cheering on friends and family members.

The accent is on teamwork, not individual performance. OG's goal is to take the I and the me from the mindset of the participants, giving them the insight of being a part of an organization or corporation with a constructive mission. He sees entrepreneurial classes in the future. The league is a stepping stone to a variety of objectives such as economic development.

Listening to OG speak was like listening to a coach or professor.

These are the kinds of things that are going on in Skid Row. Programs like these are bringing people and families together, thereby chipping away at the pervasive feelings of isolation that rest in the psyches of many in this community.

If you get a chance, go to the Midnight Mission or Gladys Park and enjoy the community feeling of watching the Skid Row Basketball League. You will walk away with a smile on your face.

Next Saturday's games are at the Midnight Mission and start at 10am. The regular season runs through December. It's definitely worth a visit.

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