In today’s Post, there was an article about how our City Park system ranks compared to the rest of the country. We did well. The article was on the proverbial back.
Going through the analysis, it appears that we compete very effectively against the cities on the top of the list except for one catagory. Why the Post writer didn’t notice this is bothersome.
I came upon a GLARING DEFECT in our park system!
In most areas we are competitive with the other cities. Its in the area of BASKETBALL HOOPS that we are the farthest behind. The high is 40 basketball courts per 10,000 residents, the average is just over 31 courts per 10,000. Saint Louis lags behind all the other cities with only 16 courts per 10,000 residents in its parks. Nearly 50% less than AVERAGE!
In the Post article, it talks about how close we are to other cities scores. It stands to reason that if we invested in adding more basketball courts to all the city parks, that this would be one ranking that we’d rise into the top 10 of all cities in the country. Not bad!
So why would we want to do that?
ESPN polls taken in 2017 have basketball ranked as the #1 recreational sport for youths, having risen steadily since 2006. It a suprising reality to me. Growing up in a non-NBA city prior to the internet, we heard as much about basketball as we did ski reports. More recently, having lived in the city with 3 children playing basketball, it became clear to me when I was driving my kids home from school with some of their buddies, and a vigorous debate was going on about who was the most dominant NBA players in each position. I was shocked.
As a basketball and soccer ‘dad coach’, the lack of adequate basketball facilities was apparent. Competing with teams around the area, I remember driving through the suburbs and seeing house after house with driveways that included a basketball hoop. In the city, not so much. There aren’t many driveways, and even less basketball hoops. Then we’d go to parks. Suburban municipal parks almost always had basketball courts, in the city, not so much. I remember Father’s Day of 2014 we found that Clifton Heights Park had one basketball court, so we headed over with a picnic basket and the kids, only to find that there was already a group there ☹️ . We attended neighborhood meetings in Tower Grove South, and the park director fielded questions about what they could do to improve the park. For whatever reason, basketball courts weren’t what they had in mind.
Children don’t vote. They don’t attend neighborhood meetings. Had I known when my kids were toddlers that A. they’d love basketball and B. the city lagged so far behind other cities in that catagory, I may have had time to do something about it. Last year, I coached my son’s 2nd grade team 😬. We practiced indoors at a charter school. One day the weather was warm, and we played with the doors open. OOOPS. Without a warning, about 6 kids, mostly older than our 2nd grade casually strolled in, grabbed a ball and started playing basketball. The kids were from the adjacent “projects”. As a youth athletic coach, nothing is more important than maintaining control of what’s going on. Rounding up and expelling the intruders took about 5 minutes, while my team waited for the disruption to end. While frustrating, I felt bad for the boys. They wanted something to do, but they’re options were limited. Their school didn’t have a solution, their parents and communities didn’t have a solution, and reading this article, it appears the local parks didn’t either.