I end up on a lot of courts after the sun goes down. While the sun is up- I can knock on doors and talk to voters, but once it’s dark- it’s time to hang or repair nets.
Last night, was mostly repairing, but I had a few interesting experiences. There is a little park in the McCook field neighborhood- just up Webster Street from the Kroc center. It has a single hoops court- with a hard volleyball court that probably hasn’t had a net up for years. Four guys were sitting in their cars on the volleyball court- talking. Once they figured out I was the green net and stencil guy- they were really glad to see me. They grew up in that ’hood, and this was still their “home court.” They were telling me if there were lights on, they’d still be hooping it up.
Next stop was Parkside homes courts, there are three- a double and a single. The tree limbs were still sitting on the side of the single, and there was evidence that the courts had been getting some play. As I was fixing one of the nets- my visions of sportsplex on the site were coming back- and I realized, this could be the ultimate hoops destination all summer long. If we built 20 courts, and could have that many games going at once, with lights on- and stands, and food trucks, we could bring some people down the same way that the baseball fields used to- the ones that sit dark most nights too, thanks to endless road construction, budget cuts and a general lack of interest by the city in using these resources anymore. For some reason, the idea of recreation as economic development has been lost in this city.
After hanging and fixing more nets- at dark courts where I knew we’d have had games going if the lights were on- at Broadway and Superior and Riverview- I went by Burkham park- home of the sorriest two courts in the city- where maybe one of the backboards is at regulation height- and it’s only a partial backboard, the opposite rim looks more like a roller coaster- and is probably at 8 feet, and the other court, which only has 1 rim is at 8 foot as well- it was bright as day- the lights were on. Go figure.
We’ve got kids playing on rollouts all over the city- on the street, depending on street lights- so you know there is a need. It’s time Dayton, let’s flip that switch and bring nighttime basketball back. It’s better our kids are shooting baskets instead of each other.