Growing up in Seattle, I was fortunate enough to get the experience to play basketball at a competitive level. Like many other kids growing up in the inner city, I dreamed of playing basketball at the highest level. Although this dream never became a reality, the life lessons I gained through my participation in sports has been the foundation for my work ethic, perseverance, ongoing community involvement and cultural competency. In addition to these experiences, basketball served as a powerful motivator in school, keeping me focused on my studies. A PLUS Youth program was founded on the idea that sports can be used as a vehicle to provide youth with the educational and character development they need to be successful in life.
Seattle has a unique basketball culture, one that fosters civic engagement — from the professional athletes who have connections to the area, to the professional franchises that represent our city. What our city might not see economically from a franchise, our youth can feel personally from their community engagement. Below are a few examples of the impact I have personally seen at A PLUS at a smaller scale due to athlete involvement that I believe would be possible on a much larger scale if Seattle had an NBA team:
- The power and impact of sports teams as fan-based organizations have the unique ability to build a strong, engaged community.
- Teams and individual athletes can build programs that specifically address social issues such as youth development and access to education resources, affordable sports participation by underprivileged and underrepresented youth, and healthy lifestyle and fitness education.
- A team and its players access to media gives them the power to draw better awareness to social issues that impact the community, and can help bring that message to a much larger audience through both traditional and social media.
- With access to media as well as community influencers, teams are able to assist in fundraising for community programs.
In short, the return of professional basketball to our community would mean more resources going to youth, more strategic youth development partnerships, and a better ability for Seattle to continue to be at the forefront of community-corporate partnerships.
The thought of having an NBA team back in Seattle reminds me of an experience I recently had with one of our youth. A youngster aged 11, still bright-eyed and determined to tackle all challenges life presented, said, “Martell (Webster) told me that even if I don’t get a scholarship to play basketball I can go to college for free if I keep my grades high.” These are the powerful messages we promote each day in our program. I cannot emphasize enough the lives an NBA team could help change.
At A PLUS, we see youth potential realized every day.
— Tavio Hobson