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New Midnight Basketball League Helps Milwaukee's Most Vulnerable Men

Photo by Kenny Yoo
Milwaukee Magazine

There was a time in the 1980s and ‘90s when so-called “midnight basketball” leagues were seen as a promising tool to give young, at-risk men in high school a productive use of their time.  But after a few years, the leagues fell out of favor.

Now, a new midnight basketball league is serving a distinct Milwaukee population, though the games are actually not all at the stroke of midnight.  The Midnight League, which draws people from around the city to its games in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, is the subject of a feature in the January issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Contributing writer Rich Rovito says this resurgence of The Midnight League was created for a larger audience.

"This is geared toward men, ages 17 to 25, who are in that age group - they’re extremely vulnerable," he notes. "They haven’t figured out life yet, they’ve now gotten away from the structure of high school, many of them don’t really know what the next phase in life brings for them."

Rovito adds that these men are often dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and a variety of other social ills. In order to bring more than the enjoyment of playing basketball, the league also requires each participant to take part in the enrichment programs that are offered each night, "so it's not just about playing basketball."

Rovito joined Lake Effect's Mitch Teich in the studio to share more of the story: