Ed Yourdon | FLICKR
Walking through the park, you can hear the crack of baseballs connecting with bats, the dribbling of basketballs, the whoosh of tennis racquets, referees blowing their whistles and softball crowds cheering once again.
Once-lively city parks and public gyms are beginning to return to normal after the pandemic made them silent shells of what they once were.
With the surge of covid-19 cases, the courts, fields and gymnasiums became off-limits. Many athletes became inactive as their routine was turned upside down.
Recreational sports, sponsored by the L.A Department of Recreation & Parks, and paid for mainly with tax dollars, provide opportunities for athletes to participate in a series of sports activities for little or no cost. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor activities, these games are enjoyed by people of all ages who use them to gain important social and athletic skills. It also gives them the opportunity to experience real competition.
During this downtime, many people who would normally engage in recreation sports were forced to find new activities they could do at home, like playing instruments, watching online shows or movies, listening to new music, or playing video games.
As more and more people get vaccinated and covid cases continue to decrease in Los Angeles, recreation centers, like Van Nuys Sherman Oaks and Balboa Sports Complex are reopening, giving afternoon and weekend athletes their livelihoods back. But there are still covid precautions in place.
Recreational centers and activities are strictly controlled by guidelines administered by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
Teams and players can now participate in medium- and high-contact indoor activities, but are required to follow the guidelines of wearing a mask and maintain six feet of social distance. Within 48 hours of participation, players must show proof of a negative covid-19 test and submit it to their coaches.
Vaccinated players are still required to follow the same protocols as other athletes. Those who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 must show proof of vaccination to coaches. The proof of vaccination would allow individuals to be lifted from the quarantine and testing guidelines.
Without these restrictions, the risks of covid-19 spread can increase and potentially cause another resurgence.
Most recreational games have reopened to public spectators, however some competitive games are still restricted to only family members and friends. These limitations are based on the maximum capacity guidelines for the facility in use.
For many students, recreational sports offer a convenient way to stay in peak condition.
“It helps me practice, stay fit, and stay active so that I can improve later on for my future in sports,” freshman Sanyam Chibber, a recreational soccer player, said.
Others use recreational sports as a springboard to increase their potential and dive into their futures as athletes.
“If you think about it, it’s good to get in even more practice if you really decide to play the sport on a higher level,” added recreational basketball player, freshman Steve Puyot.
Professional sports teams are aware of the value of recreational sports and support them by forming their own programs.
Several years ago the Los Angeles Clippers partnered with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks to launch a program called Jr. Clippers to introduce young athletes to the world of basketball through teaching them the fundamentals of the game.
The Jr. Clippers program advocates a healthy lifestyle, good sportsmanship, and personal growth among other things.
As part of the program, the Clippers also donated $10 million to the L.A. City Park Foundation to renovate 350 basketball courts across Los Angeles.
Facilities and courts are now openly-crowded with athletes looking forward to success in upcoming activities.