Local News

Midnight Tip-offs Begin Thursday in Durham

Posted September 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Hoop dreams are tipping off Thursday night in Durham. Players are walking on the court to play in the first midnight basketball league. They're hoping for more than just a shot at winning games. For them, basketball may open doors to better opportunities.

On a typical night, many young men would be on the streets with nothing to do. Instead, they are on the courts of the Durham YMCA. It's part of the Triangle's new midnight basketball league.

The objective is more than just getting people off the streets. Organizer James Johnson says the goal of midnight basketball is to reconnect young, idle, minority males with mainstream employment opportunities. Basketball, he says, is merely the hook.

Johnson predicts basketball will build bridges to education or the job market. That process starts 30 minutes before each game. It's a mandatory personal responsibility session. The players work on self esteem, conflict management , and making themselves more marketable for jobs.

Players are given uniforms and shoes, and then the action begins. Johnson says not only does the midnight league encourage basketball and sportsmanship, but it also brings a lot of the youth together and teaches a sense of harmony.

Johnson says he has already seen these players take it to the next level on the basketball court. Now they must learn to take it to the next level in life.

"It warms my heart to see so many young men stepping up to the three point line," Johnson says. "and taking a shot for success in their own lives."