On a beautiful Monday afternoon, I decided to take advantage of the unusually warm November weather to shoot around, run a lay-up drill, work on my mid-range jumper, to pretend that I still have the athletic skills of a twenty-seven-year-old. I left our flat and walked the couple of blocks to the court on Spring Street and Georgia in Silver Spring.
Upon my arrival, there it was. A court still wet nearly three days after the last rain storm. Shredded and matted fall leaves were everywhere. Apparently a crew had cleaned off the piles of leaves that had been there the week before. But I guess it would’ve been too much trouble to sweep the court clean of the debris that they helped create by using shovels without brooms and rakes. It made the court dangerous, if not downright unplayable. I was fuming, and not just because of the court’s condition that day.
I think that Montgomery County Parks and Recreation has a bias against basketball courts and the people whom the workers think use them most often. I’ve used courts all over the county over the past decade, and the problem is usually the same. Lots of dirt and other debris. Torn nets that haven’t been fixed in months or no nets at all. Crooked rims and poles set at ten and a half or eleven feet off the ground. No gates or other obstructions to keep balls from flying off the court into a parking lot or into the street. It’s as if they don’t want the residents of Montgomery County playing b-ball.
Even when renovated, the county has skimped on the quality of its repairs. Take the revamped court at Jessup Blair Park on the DC-Silver Spring border. They closed the field used for football and soccer for a full year to let the trampled area heal, to put new sod and grass down. The tennis court got a new gate and nets and so on. They took away surface area for the basketball courts in the process, with only one full-sized court now. They raised the height of the hoops. Presumably to keep some ball hog who’s only five-seven from ripping the twine, because they probably can’t jump high enough to dunk on a regulation hoop. They even made the b-ball surface the same as the tennis court’s which looks nice, but itself now needs repair.
I guess I should be used to the short-shrift given to basketball in many communities because of “the element” it could attract — you know, White guys who think they can hang because their hip-hop language skills are better than mine. Pittsburgh did a lousy job with its basketball courts, too. But then again, Pittsburgh did a poor job on all of its park and recreation facilities. Montgomery County, to say the least, isn’t the ‘Burgh. With higher local taxes and property taxes, the least they can do is to keep the courts clean and safe so that I don’t drive for a lay-up on wet pieces of leaves with broken glass hidden underneath.
What they really ought to do is what they do for the tennis courts and soccer fields. Set the courts to the correct dimensions, replace the nets regularly, clean when necessary. It would also help if they fenced in the courts. It would be nice if I didn’t have to run through a Brier patch or gouge my eye on a tree branch to keep a ball from bounding into a parking lot. My goodness, even DC Parks and Recreation can afford to do that, and they haven’t had any money for years!
All I’m asking is that Montgomery County maintains and repairs its basketball courts the same way it does the other parts of its parks. It would be nice to see my tax dollars at work on something I use at least forty times a years. Or, I guess, the county could wait until someone gets hurt because of shoddy work. Maybe then they’ll do the right thing.