2021 Photo Contest, World Press Photo Story of the Year Nominee

Those Who Stay Will Be Champions


Chris Donovan

01 March, 2020

Flint basketball legend Charlie Bell shows off his ‘Flint’ tattoo outside his old high school, Flint Southwestern. Bell was one of the three ‘Flintstones’, who helped lead the Michigan State Spartans to a national championship in 2000. He has returned to Flint to coach a local semi-professional team.

The Flint Jaguars basketball team in Flint, Michigan, USA, embodies efforts to nurture stability, encourage mutual support and strengthen community spirit in a city struggling to survive. Flint, the birthplace of General Motors, is striving against outmigration caused by a precipitous decline in its motor industry, a health crisis brought about by the authorities switching water-supply sources without proper safeguards, and the systemic neglect of high-poverty, predominantly Black neighborhoods. Basketball is an integral part of Flint culture, and the city once produced dozens of big names at collegiate and professional levels. For decades, four high school teams battled as fierce rivals. Now there is only one high school in town. The Flint Jaguars were established in 2017, merging the teams of the last two schools that remained at the time. In 2020, the team fought to turn around what had up until then been a nearly winless history. By March, they were prepared to head to the division finals with an 18-4 record, having won more games in 2020 than in the previous three years combined. Their play-off run ended prematurely when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the season. Nevertheless, the student athletes had had a taste of collective success.

About the photographer

Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan is a documentary photographer and member of Boreal Collective currently based between Toronto and New Brunswick, Canada.  Inspired by his industrial hometow...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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