Rethinking sports-based community crime prevention: A preliminary analysis of the relationship between midnight basketball and urban crime rates
The authors conducted a preliminary empirical test of the claim—dismissed by most scholars—that midnight basketball programs lower city-level crime rates. Results show cities that were early adopters of officially sanctioned midnight basketball leagues experienced sharper decreases in property crime rates than other American cities during a period in which there was broad support for midnight basketball programs. Although likely associated with a variety of confounding factors, these rather-surprising results suggest the need to reevaluate the deterrent effects of popular sports- and recreation-based prevention programs with a new emphasis on more diffuse, indirect mechanisms such as positive publicity and community trust. Further substantiation and refinement of these ideas could significantly reshape how these popular and wellestablished initiatives are implemented and evaluated.