Basketball league gaining a lot of ground

It has been quite some time since Pine Bluff has had a city wide basketball league. Thanks to the teamwork of Fess Hawkins and the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation, the city now has a men’s recreational basketball league to call its own.

“Pine Bluff has always had a men’s basketball league,” Hawkins said. “But for some reason there hasn’t been league for a couple of years.”

Hawkins is a former Dollarway center who led the Cardinals to the AA state championship in 1996 before going on to play a few years at Illinois. He describes himself as a “go-to-guy” whenever someone wants to play a game of basketball, which is one of the reasons the league was developed.

“The guys were calling me to play basketball ball at the gym. The pick up games were so competitive that I said we might as well have a league,” Hawkins said. “We went through the (Pine Bluff) Parks and Recreation and it was almost like a partnership with something that needed to happen.”

The league consists of eight teams that play organized games with official referees on Sundays. The games take place at the Chester Hynes Gymnasium with the first game starting at 1 p.m. and the last starting at 7 p.m. However, in honor and observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, the games were moved to this past Monday.

The organization of the league began on Jan. 5 and will run until Feb. 23. Being in it’s first time of establishment, Hawkins did not believe that anyone expected the recreational league to be as competitive as it has been. So far this season he has witnessed a middle-seeded team beat a top-seeded and a lower-seeded team knock off a team ranked higher than them.

According to Hawkins, the level of competition stems from bragging rights.

“Other cities have leagues and usually you are representing different business and companies,” Hawkins said. “But more than anything it’s about bragging rights.

“A lot of these teams are already established in Pine Bluff and travel to other leagues to play.”

The men’s league has room for growth and longevity. People have submitted sponsorship donations to the league to keep it running for now and for in the future. Not only does the Parks and Recreational league serve as an event for structured pickup basketball but also as an outlet to serve the community in a positive way.

“Let’s try to keep some of our community dollars in city and try to keep guys from traveling far,” Hawkins said. “We trying to keep guys off the streets. It gives them a chance to be active and stay active.”

For more information about the league, one can contact the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department at 536-0920 or Fess Hawkins at 489-8585