Banner for the Charm City Games via Baltimore City Recreation and Parks

Midway through a week that began with serious talk of public boxing bouts for Baltimore’s teens to squash their beefs, officials today announced Baltimore is starting a new mini-youth Olympics called the Charm City Games.

While boxing isn’t among the planned events for 12- to 14-year-old competitors, local youth will be facing off in basketball, soccer, track and field, and tennis from July 14-20. The Department of Recreation and Parks, which opened registration last week, will run the whole thing, and each of 14 council districts will have its own team gunning for the Charm City Cup. Like the real Olympics, there will be some pomp with a kickoff ceremony set for July 13 at City Hall.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the goal is to “unite communities through competition.”

The mayor pointed out that just yesterday he was attending the President’s Cup, featuring East and West all-star teams of teens playing baseball at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. As council president, Young championed the creation of Baltimore’s new $12 million, voter-approved Children and Youth Fund.

“This will create a very, very great thing for our young people—competition, but also an opportunity for them to be involved in constructive and physical activity,” said Council President Brandon Scott. He noted Recreation and Parks staff have been talking about starting a competition like this for years, but were stymied. “This isn’t the first time they’ve tried to do this event, but it’s the first time they’ve been allowed to.”

Scott was unanimously voted in as council president last month after Young was elevated to the position of mayor, all of which happened in the wake of Catherine Pugh’s resignation. Weeks ago, when Scott was still the 2nd District’s elected representative, he and his council colleagues were competing to have the best team representing their district. “Now all the teams are mine,” he joked.

The week-long Charm City Games will cost about $100,000, which will come out of Recreation and Parks’ sports programming budget, agency Director Reginald Moore said.

Some logistics shared by Moore: Track events will happen at Frederick Douglass High School, basketball games at C.C. Jackson Recreation Center, and tennis and soccer matches at Druid Hill Park. The teams, to be formed with tryouts, will include boys and girls squads for basketball, track and field, and singles and doubles for tennis. Soccer will be co-ed, 7-on-7, and there will be a mixed doubles field for tennis.

Moore, who came to Baltimore in 2017, said Baltimore is replicating a competition he saw succeed in his old post back in Georgia, where he’d worked for the the City of Macon and Bibb County’s parks and recreation agency since 2002.

“We brought kids together,” Moore said. They also had youth teams compete at the International Children’s Games in Cleveland in 2004, something he said he would love to see Baltimore do as well.

The Charm City Games will be free for participating youth, whose parents can sign them up here through Friday, June 14. Moore said Rec and Parks is still seeking coaches, who can sign up here.

Parents can also register their kids in person at the Herring Run, Virginia S. Baker, Northwood, Walter P. Carter, CC Jackson, Roosevelt and Edgewood recreation centers.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...