If you live anywhere near the city you know that there is a new sports arena being built in the heart of  Downtown. As with any major happening in Detroit, there is a lot of buzz and controversy surrounding it. I’ve been on the fence regarding this project for a while and I’m still not sure that it’s being built in the most responsible/respectful manner for Detroit. A sticking point for me has been the fact that so much money was being poured into building a new arena for one of the Whitest sports in one of the Blackest cities in the U.S. In my mind the arena was becoming a monument to gentrification in the city. I had heard rumors that the Detroit Pistons might one day move back to the city, but I never thought it would be this soon or in the brand new areana. The return of the “Bad Boys” gives me all the feels. A team made up of successful Black males playing a sport loved by many in our community. Walking heroes for young Black boys and girls throughout our city.

Behind the brand-new arena is Mariners Inn, a non-profit providing residence for homeless men fighting substance abuse. I pulled into the parking lot of Mariners the other day to meet the resident that I tutor weekly. Upon arrival I was greeted by the larger than life image of the Detroit Piston’s starting-five on the arena’s new parking garage. I excitedly discussed the news with the young man I tutor there. Knowing he  he can often be found wearing some sort of Pistons merchandise I figured he would a least match my excitement. As we walked to their onsite library we passed flyers for the upcoming event that I and the Challenge Detroit events committee were working on. We called it “Game Show Mania”, and split the Challenge Detroit fellows into four groups to plan four famous games for the men to play. I took the opportunity to remind him that the event was coming and encouraged him to attend. Admittedly I was nervous about the event and wondered if any men would actually attend.

On the night of the event I arrived two hours early to “set-up”. I’m not sure what I was expecting the setting up process to look like but I soon realized that I was a being a bit over eager. The men were using the event room to watch a movie when I arrived so I left and returned a little later. Soon after my second arrival the Challenge Team showed up and it wasn’t long before the residents followed. The night was a success! The men had a great time playing the classic TV games, and the fellows had an amazing experience serving them. I feel so honored to have provided a few hours of fun for the men , no strings attached. #Playdetroit