In 2011, the NBA experienced its fourth lockout in history, which lasted for 161 days. The season was cut from 82 to 66 games, and during this time players had no access to NBA team facilities, trainers or staff.
Meanwhile, many players participated in summer leagues to stay in shape. Being an avid basketball fan, Washington DC-based social documentary photographer Jared Soares became interested in the culture of these summer leagues. And The Goodman League project was born.
Existing amidst the low-income Southeast Washington D.C. neighborhood of Barry Farm, The Goodman League features regulars such as NBA superstar Kevin Durant and Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, as well as various college stars and talents of all ages. Games are played six days a week from June-August on Barry Farms Dwellings courts, equipped with assigned seats— including season ticket holders and spots reserved for all, from the young crowd to the “9-5 crowd” that heads over after work.
Of course, Jared was conscious of his environment when stepping onto the courts, a place of comfort and home to so many:
“As a photographer entering a new environment, you will always attract attention. People want to know what the weird looking guy with the cameras is doing here and I think it’s important to be able to explain your intentions to potential subjects. With that said, early on in this project I made a point to chat with people and show them some of my past work.”
Jared plans to head back to Barry Farm next summer to continue the project. It has received positive feedback across the board, and was recently published on CNN photo blog.
Just as these athletes take advantage of every opportunity to improve, Jared is doing the same in his craft:
“Just as the players were sharpening their skills on the court, I was refining my skills as a photographer too. One aspect that I wanted to develop was my portraiture and each night gave me the opportunity to practice approaching potential sitters. By nature I’m a shy person, so I tried to push myself to meet new people at each game.”