Last week, CBS This Morning did a report on Dan Peterson and his creation, Project Backboard, which rehabs cracked outdoor basketball courts with a color wheel of creativity and design.
CBS’s Jamie Yuccas caught up with Peterson in Oakland, the site of his latest project. He and his organization have transformed 22 courts across the country into colorful temples.
The video touches on Peterson’s basketball background, who has been enamored with the sport since his teen years. In 2015, he was balling on a broken down court and decided to do something about it.
“It was something I felt it needed and something I felt I could do,” he said in the video.
Peterson repainted the free-throw line, and he was hooked. It led to the foundation of Project Backboard, which uses “public basketball courts as a canvas for creative expression in order to strengthen communities and inspire multi-generational play,” according to its website.
“Playing on courts that look like this may cause you to think more creatively,” Peterson explained in the video. “That is one of the hopes, that people come into this space and they start imagining, ‘What if?'”
The Oakland courts were designed by local artist Muzae Sesay, who we also learn about in the video. He is one of several in Peterson’s army of artists who have manicured these murals.
Sesay said his design is meant to foster a sense of home and community, a theme for the purpose of Project Backboard. For as much as this movement is about basketball, there’s a wider scope at play.
Hooping outdoors is taking the game back to its roots. Playing indoors is great, but there’s something gritty and natural about a blacktop. However, basketball lovers everywhere have found themselves on courts that would be condemned if they were buildings: raised cracks, grass sprouting out through slight openings, backboards that kill the ball. It can keep people away, meaning a waste of space and opportunity.
In turning these once-decrepit courts into brand-new models of art, Peterson is making the space open to the neighborhood again. It’s important for communities to have “watering holes,” so to speak, and the local basketball court is a space for that. With the beauty of Project Backboard designs and quality of the courts, it naturally brings people together, literally and figuratively, and that can only be a good thing.