Dirt Bowl unites community in sportsmanship and spirit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Dirt Bowl unites community in sportsmanship and spirit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Some Dirt Bowl greats of yesterday and today hit the court for a little pre tournament warm up. It didn't take long to shake the dust off their skills and bring the "trash talk" and memories back to life.

"I grew up right down the street here in the 80's, early 90's and it's been where I lived my whole life and ever since I was a kid the dirt bowl I don't know what it is, but it's like a family reunion every week," said Paul Puryear, the 2009 Dirt Bowl winner.

The Dirt Bowl first launched in 1969 as a way to bring black neighborhoods together under the spirit of competition. 

The event lost its purpose somewhere along the way.
"No one knew how to stop the violence down here. Fights would break out. It was gangs," said Dirt Bowl organizer Neal Robertson.

Metro Parks re-launched the basketball tournament in 2012 as time calmed the crowds and the community realized what it had missed. "We lost track of that. We can live right down the road form each other and not know one another. That's why there's so much violence, because I don't know you," Robertson said.

The Dirt Bowl has played host to some of Louisville's best basketball stars and a few will return this summer to help lead the tournament.

"I was on the 1982 McDonald's All-American where I played with Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan...," said U of L great Manuel Forrest, who will be a referee for the Dirt Bowl.

Forrest added "I've played in a lot of arenas and played in the Superdomes and Final Four, but there was nothing like the crowd here at Shawnee Park for the Dirt Bowl."

Forrest still holds the city's all time leading scoring record for high school basketball. He says tomorrow's superstar could be cutting their teeth on this court. "You can find the next LeBron or Manuel Forrest," he said.

Twenty-eight teams will vie for bragging rights in the summer tournament.

This year the teams aren't just competing for a trophy. The Dirt Bowl is also hosting a free job fair and health screening clinic.

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