Champions of Community: The Fourth Annual Peace Games

3 years ago

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Everyday champions play on Connor Sports basketball courts but the power of these champions extend beyond the three-point line. As Champions of Community, Connor Sports, along with St. Sabina, Mary’s Courts, Isiah Thomas, the Noah’s Arc Foundation and Joakim Noah, brought champions together for the Annual Chicago Peace Games in an effort to build relationships and create brotherhood on the neutral territory of a basketball court.

The Peace Games strive to foster relationships among at risk youth of Chicago in hopes of alleviating violence in the community. This is done by asking young men in the south side to take an oath of peace. They promise to renounce affiliations with any violent groups, to turn in their guns and participate in the Peace Games basketball league, career advising and other programs designed to create comradery in the community while preparing individuals to build successful careers.

Connor Sports believes programs like the Chicago Peace Games are vital to establishing relationships that build a safe and strong community. Our belief in building relationships is shown through our continual commitment to the Peace Games. We’ve been a leading sponsor of the initiative since the idea was born in 2012. Every year we provide a new court for St. Sabina but our dedication goes beyond the surface. We support efforts year round by educating others about the Peace Game’s mission, attending peace marches and supporting St. Sabina’s anti-violence efforts.

The power of the Peace Games resonates with more than us. Wayne Ellington, a shooting guard for the Brooklyn Nets, lost his father to gun violence in Philadelphia earlier this year. Ellington attended the Chicago Peace Games for his first time this past Saturday and bravely shared his loss with the St. Sabina community and Peace Games participants. Ellington’s story makes the violence in Chicago more salient and highlights that the problem impacts more than just one city, it occurs throughout America. Ellington shared his personal experience in hopes his loss would resonate with players and Chicago, and demonstrate the enduring nature of community and sport when confronted with loss and animosity.

Over the past four years, St. Sabina has embodied the enduring nature of community and sport. It has shown that the structures of violence can be torn down and has demonstrated the true power of basketball and community. St. Sabina has seen positive change taken from the baseline to the sidewalk of the south side of Chicago as more young men participate in the Peace Games and the number of shootings and violence decreases.

Every year, we leave the Peace Games in awe of the St. Sabina community. We are honored to have been a part of this extraordinary event from the beginning and see it as testament to basketball’s ability to promote peace, build relationships and create brotherhood. 

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