A lot has been said - both pro and con - about offering midnight basketball as a way to keep kids off the streets and away from crime.
I'm of the opinion that IF this is an effective program, it's best offered by churches and private-sector groups - NOT the government.
Toledo tried it years ago, and is now doing it again. This is the press release issued yesterday:
Mayor joins community recreation advocates to recognize late night basketball program
Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell will join representatives of the Toledo Community Recreation Program today to recognize a Late Night Basketball program being offered in community centers around the city. The press conference will be held at 1 p.m. at the East Toledo Family Center.
The program is running for six weeks and is focused on providing positive alternative programming for teens and young adults during those hours of the night most common for the occurrence of youth crime. The sites will rotate throughout the week and play will run from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. with site supervisors providing staffing and support. Participating sites include East Toledo Family Center, Believe Center, Chester Saluki Center and the Frederick Douglas Center.
The timing is questionable, considering the city's completely unnecessary brand new 10-year, 1-mill levy request is on the ballot on Nov. 6th.
So this is a bribe, and it's not really for kids. It's for adults since the games are geared to 18-24 year olds and run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Why are we bribing adults? If they're that old, shouldn't they be able to get such games together on their own? And these are not 'youths' despite what organizers call them.
This is promoting a further dependency on government, for 'entertainment' no less.
Think about it: these adults could get together and set up the games with these same facilities. They'd just need to cover the costs. To do so, they'd need jobs so they'd have disposable income to pay for their entertainment. But why should they do any of this on their own when the government will do it for them and pay for everything?
So the city of Toledo is paying $60,000 for midnight basketball for adults and claiming it will help stop 'youth' violence.
That the program is popular with as many as 100 people at a time at the facility is not a surprise. But if it is that popular, can't it be self-sufficient?
But if people have to pay, they won't come, we're told. Aye, there's the rub.
And what about people who don't play or like basketball? Will we have to have programs for every adult between the ages of 18 and 24 in order to avoid any discrimination charges? And where are the programs for women?
Midnight basketball won't address the problems that lead to crime, especially among adults, even when they are called 'youth.' It starts in our families and continues to our schools and into the marketplace with jobs.
Midnight basketball is a band-aid on a gaping wound that needs surgery - but as long as it's free, it will continue to be popular.