The Chicago Dragon’s Athletic Association provides opportunities for young people to make positive contributions to their community through participation and leadership in public activities, athletic competitions, and cultural events. Association members help introduce and share valued aspects of Chinese culture and Chicago’s Chinatown community.
History - Past and Present
Founded in 1972 by Gene Lee and a few of his friends from Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, the Chicago Dragon’s Athletic Association began as one adult team, then a younger team that grew into many teams that offered local youth a recreational alternative to the streets. Despite their regular diet of group fun and athletic activity in the Chicago Niesi Athletic Association basketball leagues our members grew tired of playing against one another week after week. Following another few years of successful recruitment, Lee expanded the Dragons into a citywide activity that attracted young people from neighborhoods throughout the area. This helped to start the Midwest Asian Basketball Tournament and then the First North American Chinese Basketball Tournament for Chinese teams around the country.
Today the Chicago Dragon’s Athletic Association boast that many hundreds of young people ranging in ages from 12 to 55 have participated in Association activities which build strong cultural values, as well as athletes. In addition to basketball teams, the Dragons formed performing teams that share traditional (dragon/lion) dances, costumes, music, and pageantry with a growing and increasingly diverse Chicagoland community. Without moving too far beyond the basketball floor, the Dragons are now contributing significantly to their immediate Chinatown community, their city, and their personal understanding of Chinese cultural traditions via the Dragon’s Volunteer Committee which produce special events in Chinatown.