Over a dozen teams played Saturday in a Des Moines high school basketball league dedicated to closing the financial gap between city and suburban schools’ basketball programs.
Long Shots, the new league, hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Evelyn K. Davis Park. A total of 16 boys’ teams and seven girls’ teams competed at the tournament.
“There’s a gap in family incomes, in funding and allocation of funds — however you want to put it — between the suburbs and inner cities, and sports are just a glaring aspect of it,” said Billy “B.Well” Weathers, 29, of Des Moines.
Weathers helped create and organize the league and tournament along with his non-profit organization, the B.Well Foundation, and The Dojo Basketball Group, Ink Space and Function House Hospitality Group.
“… Basketball is something my friends grew up playing — I don’t want to say ‘cheap sport’ — but it’s turned into elitism. If you don’t have thousands of dollars to send your kids to AAU programs, they’re not getting any experience,” Weathers said.
Haywood Boston, 68, a girls’ basketball coach, has been coaching the sport for over 20 years. The more the kids play, the more the gap is going to get closed, he told the Register.
“The problem in Des Moines is they don’t start playing high school basketball until they’re in eighth grade,” Boston said. “I get a lot of girls that never touched a basketball, they come in high school — they’re already behind.”
Weathers said $1,000 will be donated to each Des Moines public high school basketball program and will be split evenly between girls’ and boys’ teams. Money was fundraised to create the Long Shots league via donations and by selling Long Shots merchandise and community art.
The Des Moines basketball programs will then be asked to “pay it forward” and dedicate a day to community service, Weathers said.
“This is what happens when a community comes together,” Weathers said. “We had a couple thousand dollars to make this happen, so it’s like, what can we do with a couple million?”
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