2021 Photo Contest, Sports, Stories, 1st Prize

Those Who Stay Will Be Champions

Photographer

Chris Donovan

16 February, 2019

The gym at former basketball powerhouse Flint Central High School, in Flint, Michigan, USA, stands derelict, eight years after the school permanently closed. The American flag and the team banners, both covered in mold, can still be seen in the rafters.

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
2
Focal length
24-70mm
F-Stop
f/2.8
ISO
500
Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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