Englewood residents turn to basketball to avoid crime

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The winner earns bragging rights in the neighborhood for the next twelve months.

You’re watching the first round of the Battle of the Block in Englewood– neighborhood boys are turning to basketball this week and in the process they’re staying away from crime.

“It brings the community together, especially in the Englewood area where there is a lot of negativity going on, but on this particular week we all come together and get back into the church.”

Reverend Pervis Thomas of New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church is the man behind all of this who has inspired private donors including David Axelrod, to shell out cash for the hoops, the DJ and the uniforms each summer going on six years.  Here, the focus is entirely on the game. If anyone acts up…they’re out of here.

“You’ve got guys who have been going at it for years but when they come here they get rid of that and shoot the ball instead of shoot the gun.”

He’s trying to intervene early and got the little ones out and enrolled in a camp each morning this week.

“We walked from block to block to get guys off the corner and porches, this one and you get the block bragging.”

There are 12 teams in all– originating from blocks between Normal and Western from 56th to 64th Street.  This block battle is between guys from 60thto guys from Morgan.

This is what boys should be doing– their families in tow, organizers say– a simple summer pleasure of youth.

“Everybody’s family and friends came together and it’s about fun, today is about fun .”

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