Sports, Community, and the Inclusive City
From basketball hoops to cricket bats, the role community sports play in our cities and how crucial they are to diversity and inclusion.
For every kid who makes it to the NBA, thousands more simply seek out the pleasure and camaraderie of playing pick-up basketball in their local community centre or on a court in the neighbourhood park. It’s a story that plays out in sport after sport — team or individual, youth or adult, men's or women's. While the high-energy spectacle of professional basketball, soccer, or hockey may command our attention and fill our TV screens night after night, the world of grassroots, no- or low-stakes sports hums along in the background, a kind of connective tissue that brings city-dwellers together in ways that go well beyond the most obvious physical benefits.
Yet the 2020 pandemic and heightened concerns about racial exclusion have revealed just how important these pastimes are, and what happens when we either lose access to them or take for granted the public spaces where we play. In this closely reported exploration of the role of community sports in highly diverse urban centres, Toronto journalist Perry King offers a compelling roadmap for re-imagining neighbourhoods whose residents are active, healthy, and genuinely connected.