National News

Kind KC: Basketball league brings neighborhood together

Posted August 7

— Three evenings a week during the summer, you'll find the basketball court at Oak Park packed with young men.

It's part of a summer league that was pioneered by Pat Clarke, a Kansas City native.

In fact, the basketball court is named after Clarke.

"What I'd like to do is have the same effect on these kids that rappers have," Clarke said. "The rappers will tell you, 'Hey, I shot ten people, I got big game.' Well, no I didn't shoot ten people, but I got big game. Let me show you my game."

Clarke said he wants to connect with the youth and teach them leadership, kindness, and responsibility by playing basketball with them.

"What we do here is we create an opportunity to create another avenue," Clarke said. "I build relationships every day."

Anyone can play in the league as long they follow a simple code of conduct: no bags on the court, no climbing the fences, and no f-words.

Clarke's son, Chiefy, has been playing in the league for three years.

"Honestly to get a group, a whole group of guys, play basketball, with no violence, it's amazing, especially black males," Chiefy said.

The games have a big impact on people's lives.

"This is my life, basketball," Cheify said. "It taught me everything about life. I know how to talk to people, I know to interact, man, everything I do is because of basketball."

The games are intense, and there is a lot of athletic talent on the court.

Clarke believes the league isn't just teaching basketball, it's helping build a future.

"There is not a job description in the world that can beat this one," Clarke said.

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