"We Used to Win Here": A Salon film

This short documentary set in Baltimore examines the growing divide in youth sports access and opportunity

Published August 4, 2023 10:00AM (EDT)

We Used to Win Here (Devin Allen)
We Used to Win Here (Devin Allen)

Youth sports participation is declining in America. The number of high schoolers playing a team sport has dropped to its lowest level in history and there are fewer sports programs available to younger children than ever before. At the same time, hyper-elite programs like AAU basketball, which attract the best players from around the country, are thriving thanks to big boosts from corporate brands like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas.

In a documentary short film titled, "We Used to Win Here," set in Baltimore, Salon examines how the growing divide in youth sports access and opportunity is affecting this city. Something as simple as playing on a recreational basketball team in a child's neighborhood offers exposure to athletics, community, mentorship and lifelong lessons in competition, showing up and teamwork. 

"We Used to Win Here" features interviews with former Division 1 college and pro basketball players from Baltimore, promising young stars, coaches and program leaders, who all say they learned their tough-minded approach to basketball coming up on Baltimore courts — a culture they say no longer exists today.

Watch "We Used to Win Here":

By Alexandra Clinton

Alexandra (Lexie) Clinton is Salon's Executive Producer.

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By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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Baltimore Basketball Documentary Film Sports