Greater Greater Education

DC sports spaces give short shrift to girls

The Department of Parks and Recreation doesn't allocate its resources in a way that matches the gender composition of the District. We are split, more or less, 50/50. Shouldn't DC support its citizens' recreational needs accordingly?


Photo by susieq3c on flickr.

The top five recreational activities that girls participate in are: dancing, swimming, basketball, jogging, volleyball. For boys, the ranking goes: basketball, football, soccer, jogging, swimming.

And yet, at least in Ward 3, that's not how DPR allocates its land or facilitiesnot even close. Neither baseball nor softball make either gender's list of top activities, but there are at least 14 public baseball fields in Ward 3. And girls are far less likely to play baseball than boys.

Numerous studies have shown that physical activity and recreation are essential to physical, emotional, and intellectual health. The White House, the American Medical Association, and numerous other organizations recognize the importance of the issue, as witnessed by the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign. A recent study shows that urban children in particular get more exercise when they have the opportunity to play outside. And both boys and girls need exercise.

Allocating half the outdoor recreational space in Northwest DC to an activity that attracts less than one tenth of half the population leaves a lot of those kids to fend for themselves. This is a problem we can fix with compromise and consideration and by asking the right questions.

Perhaps our starting assumptions are biased. A lack of cyclists on dangerous arterial roads doesn't prove cyclists wouldn't ride on them if it were safe to do so. And it's possible there's no clear demand for girl's facilities because they can't even begin to play their sports.

In the 1990s, Vienna, Austria, realized that in formulating its urban policy it hadn't taken into account the problems that women and girls faced. So it started a successful program to redesign the city to meet their needs. DPR needs a similar strategy for identifying interest and providing facilities for all potential participants.

Otherwise, the message the city is sending our girls is either "we're just not that concerned about you," or "we haven't thought that much about you." My eyes have been opened to this situation as an equity issue because I have daughters. But no one should be comfortable with anything resembling those attitudes.

Physical activity, and how our city provides appropriate facilities for it, is not something frivolous. It has far-reaching implications for the individual, the community, the country, and beyond.

We should ask ourselves how we decide what uses are best for our green space and what kinds of facilities will meet the needs of both boys and girls.

Support us: Monthly   Yearly   One time
Greatest supporter—$250/year
Greater supporter—$100/year
Great supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Greatest supporter—$250
Greater supporter—$100
Great supporter—$50
Supporter—$20
Or pick your own amount: $
Want to contribute by mail or another way? Instructions are here.
Contributions to Greater Greater Education are not tax deductible.

Sam Serebin is principal and owner of Green Rhino Design and an ANC 3E commissioner. He is an award-winning designer and art director with approximately twenty years of professional experience. His passions center around sports, design, conservation, the outdoors, equity, education, baking, and advocacy. 

Comments

Add a comment »

How can one provide space for dancing? (which is different than providing funds for programs geared to dancing). Besides having it inside of existing facilities which are gym-like, providing dedicated space to dancing seems a bit of a waste of limited resources. Also, the second for girls is swimming. Is the article saying there are not enough communit pools? I am sure everyone would agree with that. But pools are pretty gender neutral, no? Also, providing baseball fields is sort of a default and they are cheaper to maintain than pools, which may account for their abundance. I also wonder if age plays into this, since those in charge may come from a generation where baseball was the predominant sport, whereas soccer etc are now.

by JDC Esq on Dec 5, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

It wouldn't be terribly hard to make a gym multi-functional that could support dance activities as well. Just figure out a way to put up the bar thing that ballerinas use (protecting mirrors would be more of a challenge but it's not impossible).

This is an interesting issue that I haven't thought about to my shame but I'm glad its being brought up now.

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

I think baseball is waning anyway, at least as an urban sport. Even basketball is slowly taking a backseat to soccer. Ward 1 has a lot of soccer fields (both made and created) and it is being used by whoever gets there. Soccer is also played by women/girls. Girls are using them in aftercare near my house and women are playing in games, not just in the numbers the men are.

by dc denizen on Dec 5, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

Where are you getting these numbers?
Allocating half the outdoor recreational space in Northwest DC to an activity that attracts less than one tenth of half the population leaves a lot of those kids to fend for themselves.

Most of the recreational space in NW DC is Rock Creek Park. This supports jogging, hiking and cycling. If it only draws 10% of the population should we clear cut it and build swimming pools and dance studios?

by Richard on Dec 5, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

The numbers you cite come from a study by the Women's Sports Foundation in 2008. I'm not terribly confident that they reflect the children in DC in 2013. I would be surprised if baseball isn't a larger portion of activity given the popularity of homerun baseball camps and little league in both NW and Capitol Hill. Are the baseball fields underutilized? Getting field space on the Hill is challenging with the current allocation of resources.

The girls sports you mention aren't field sports, but I would be surprised if both soccer and softball didn't make the top ten in DC for both boys and girls.

by SE on Dec 5, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

If it only draws 10% of the population should we clear cut it and build swimming pools and dance studios?

False choice. The marginal cost of adding more dance friendly facilities (could be as simple as a few pieces of equipment in a gym, or a change in planning for an upcoming or refurbished rec. center) could mean a much greater marginal benefit of kids using DC parks and rec. facilities, that's all.

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

The baseball fields are a legacy from a time when baseball was the most popular youth sport and girls sports weren't taken seriously. Nothing more. Times change and sporting tastes change. We now have too few soccer fields in D.C. as well as the whole region. Many of the ones that we have are dust/mud bowls because of the constant wear and tear and could use some funding to be converted to field turf.

Soccer is played by both genders of all ages as well is in co-ed leagues for adults (disclosure - I play in District Sports, a co-ed adult rec league in the District).

Perhaps the author could come up with a plan to fund converting the space-hungry baseball fields into field turf soccer/football fields and asphalt basketball courts. That would go more towards addressing the issues in the post than complaining about the existing permitting process.

by Cavan on Dec 5, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

The top five recreational activities that girls participate in are: dancing, swimming, basketball, jogging, volleyball. For boys, the ranking goes: basketball, football, soccer, jogging, swimming.

And yet, at least in Ward 3, that's not how DPR allocates its land or facilities—not even close. Neither baseball nor softball make either gender's list of top activities, but there are at least 14 public baseball fields in Ward 3. And girls are far less likely to play baseball than boys.

The study provides national numbers, not Ward 3 numbers. Perhaps Ward 3 has higher rates of participation in Baseball/Softball.
Baseball is a affluent sport because of all the equipment it requires to play. Ward 3 certainly is affluent.
Baseball is more popular in towns with MLB teams. Washington has an MLB team.

Even the national numbers suggest that 48% of boys and 38% of girls participate in Baseball/Softball. That isn'tless than one tenth of half the population it's over four tenths of the entire population.

I am no fan of baseball, it's a silly sport. I think the diamonds are ugly and underused. But you cannot say that you shouldn't have some baseball diamonds, the game is unplayable without them.

by Richard on Dec 5, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

Should each ward allocate green space in accordance with the desires of boys and girls activities?

Plus as far as I understand it the interest in physical activities among girls and women is lower than it is for boys and men.

by Fitz on Dec 5, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

Allocating half the outdoor recreational space in Northwest DC to an activity that attracts less than one tenth of half the population leaves a lot of those kids to fend for themselves.
Most of the recreational space in NW DC is Rock Creek Park. This supports jogging, hiking and cycling. If it only draws 10% of the population should we clear cut it and build swimming pools and dance studios?
False choice. The marginal cost of adding more dance friendly facilities (could be as simple as a few pieces of equipment in a gym, or a change in planning for an upcoming or refurbished rec. center) could mean a much greater marginal benefit of kids using DC parks and rec. facilities, that's all.

I'm not against making more indoor spaces dance friendly or building more swimming pools, I am very curious about the authors claims though and what kinds of improvements they want.

Again, "Allocating half the outdoor recreational space in Northwest DC to an activity that attracts less than one tenth of half the population leaves a lot of those kids to fend for themselves." From my estimate 90% of the outdoor rec space in NW DC is forested parkland. It serves not just Ward3 but all of DC and some of MD. What is being suggested to change that layout?

by Richard on Dec 5, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

I'd say the point of this article isn't to lay out specific policy proposals (i.e. allocations of space) but to put the question "are our sports spaces serving both genders?" into people's minds. There may be a privelege or bias that we (as a city/society/whatever) hasn't acknowledged but is still present.

Personally, I think the city wouldn't have to do much to acheive some sort of parity but the first step is acknowledging that there is some sort of gap.

by drumz on Dec 5, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

This is an important post. FWIW, for years I've been making the point that planning, including parks and recreation planning, tends to be deficient in taking a demographics-centric approach to planning for facilities and programming, to ensure that all demographics are adequately served.

E.g., my "complaints" in bike planning about focusing on "black women biking" etc. is that this is only one of the demographics that is underserved by bike planning and programming, others are youth, families, immigrants, Latinos, women more generally, etc., and that we ought to be aiming to serve everyone, and we can do that through more systematic planning processes and scopes.

2. I haven't kept up with the PlayDC master planning effort. I know that I was disappointed by the session I attended, because I think the scope of the plan is pretty narrow, nothing like what I was hoping for.

And because the Dept. of General Services now has responsibility for DPR facilities, it's unclear how good the DPR master plan will be on addressing these issues.

3. DK if you are familiar with some of the best practice parks and recreation planning writing. Ironically, the authors of some of these works set up the planning practice that is doing the DPR plan, but I think that the scope of the DC effort is pretty constrained, in ways that militate against applying best practice approaches.

e.g., http://books.google.com/books?id=3spWR8wdGaQC&pg=PA512&lpg=PA512&dq=david+barth+parks+planning+triangulation&source=bl&ots=vCNIX_tQ2Z&sig=-XeEQoBEHJuUSv9PyrfjbGG6SeM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=J6OgUvGfM8XEsAS97oCwAg&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=david%20barth%20parks%20planning%20triangulation&f=false

I can't seem to find Barth's writings on the web anymore. I will try to track some down.

by Richard Layman on Dec 5, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

@ Richard:Even the national numbers suggest that 48% of boys and 38% of girls participate in Baseball/Softball. That isn'tless than one tenth of half the population it's over four tenths of the entire population.

Assuming that with 'boys' and 'girls' are minors, as opposed to 'men' and 'women', and there are more people in the US than children alone, your statement is incorrect.

by Jasper on Dec 5, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

If the numbers come from an advocacy group study done nationally, then where's the evidence that they matter her and now. Ward 3 seems pretty unrepresentative of anything national, esp. given the emphasis organized athletics, in middle class and more affluent parts of DC and the burbs. It's funny to see how deserted facilities can be in family-oriented neighborhoods outside of organized activities. I'm sitting in a relatively well off partof a medium sized Midwestrn city and one actually sees children and youth outside doing things here without it being an organized activity.

by Rich on Dec 5, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

DPR does provide space for dancing -- it's indoor space in rec centers. Ditto yoga, gymnastics, fencing, cheer, etc. Ward 3 pool space is indoor as well. So outdoor space seems like the wrong metric.

I'm curious as to how baseball diamonds get used when baseball isn't being played (i.e. most of the time). Ours was routinely used as a track and/or as a field (for things like Frisbee and tag). My kids have outgrown the playground so we're not over there as much and more baseball-specific infrastructure has been installed (including fences)since then, so that may have changed.

by BTDT on Dec 5, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

I don't quarrel with the participation numbers, but IME many of the "baseball" fields in NW are multipurpose fields that also allow for soccer and other field sports. Yes, it's crappy to play soccer on a dirt infield; on the other hand, it's crappy to play soccer on an all-dirt field, which is what many of them are.

But if the proposal is to convert grass/turf sports fields to swimming/dancing/running facilities that seems like a non-starter.

by ah on Dec 5, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

I left out a key word in this sentence:

WIW, for years I've been making the point that planning, including parks and recreation planning, tends to be deficient in _not_ taking a demographics-centric approach to planning for facilities and programming, to ensure that all demographics are adequately served.

I left out "not."

2. I will say in response that one of David Barth's points about "triangulation" and getting at least three perspectives on parks and rec. planning, is that he makes the point that open space people advocate for open space and team sports people advocate for team sports space, etc.

The point is to work to survey all the needs and interests, and work to meet as many needs as possible.

But yes, the types of team sports played changes, the way that people are organized to play changes, and the fact that most of the facilities lie unused for large amounts of times shows we need to change how we organize this space.

3. In Balt. County they don't have staff doing programming, they have ceded that to community organized "recreation and parks councils," which also raise money to fund the programming.

I have argued that this tends to underserve poorer areas, which have fewer resources. And team sports tend to dominate the programming. That being said, "anyone" can go to their Rec. and Parks Council to advocate for other programming, and to even be able to offer it.

What Balt. County doesn't do is capacity building for the councils, and push the envelope in what people consider. (E.g., Atlanta's Park Pride organization does an annual conference.) And they should step in to provide assistance to the areas that are under resourced.

by Richard Layman on Dec 5, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

Surely adults also are relevant users of public spaces? What % of adults in DC play softball or kickball, in leagues that are almost universally co-ed?

by Hadur on Dec 5, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

The author of the article was specifically talking about DPR land, as opposed to NPS land (I believe). That's a very important distinction.

A lot of land that is currently underutilized in DC is actually NPS land (and before anyone goes off, I am definitely not talking about Rock Creek Park—which should be kept in as natural a state as possible—I would say the same for our tree canopy. Unfortunately, Pepco, and the DC Council seemingly feel differently about the tree canopy. A natural resource that they are either actively or passively allowing to be "pruned" into oblivion. One day we will all wring our hands about what has been allowed to happen.

But I digress.

I am referring to all those triangles (as but one category for example), some of which are quite large, that could be put to better use if NPS allowed DC, and then DC designed and used them wisely. Many of those spaces could serve a whole host of needs and purposes if DC (and it's residents) were given the opportunity to put them to use.

Coming back to where I began in this post, it seems to me the focus of the article was DPR lands and DPR, not NPS.

Use of NPS land seems a worthwhile conversation for another day... or perhaps another article/thread?

by Active In DC on Dec 5, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

I don't know how meaningful it is, but if you walk along the Mall on Wednesday and Thursday nights during the summer there's quite a few people playing softball and kickball out there even though there is no diamond in place.

by Fitz on Dec 5, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

I grew up in the Montgomery County Swim League. There are leagues in Prince George's and Howard County, as well as all over Northern Virginia. With so many public swim facilities, I don't understand why DC does not have a public youth swim league, especially considering the enormous popularity of the sport in this area.

by Dave Murphy on Dec 5, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

Reminds me of the plentiful and mothballed tennis courts everywhere. Sports facilities move in fads, and sometimes I wonder what of our current-day facilities will seem terribly dated in another 10 years. It's strange to see how skate park design has evolved so quickly, for instance.

DPR has a master planning process underway called Play DC which aims to collect public input that will better match facilities to demand. I also imagine that someone, somewhere, has some figures about enrollment in various leagues.

by Payton on Dec 5, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

Does the issue need to be framed as girls vs. boys or children vs. adults? How about framing it as closing the gap between what facilities are in demand vs. what facilities exist? If there's a misalignment (and there seems to be one) between the facilities being provided and the demand for facilities, the gap should be closed regardless of the age or gender of the users.

Reminds me of the plentiful and mothballed tennis courts everywhere.

Where are these mothballed tennis courts? The ones I'm familiar with in DC and Arlington get heavy use.

by Falls Church on Dec 5, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

I think Sam has raised an overlooked issue that would require some serious examination of the city's priorities.

I'm neither a parent, child, nor female so I don't have much firsthand experience to go off when it comes to this, so I'd like to see the city look into it.

by Neil Flanagan on Dec 5, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

I think it's important to recognize that the much quoted baseball (ironically apropos) movie line applies in this case, and so looking at current usage and demand might give you a very warped picture of what equity requires.

The line being...

"If you build it, they will come."

The fact is, there are many baseball fields in Ward 3 (as an example, because that's where I live), but there is not a single outdoor pool, there is not a single gymnastics facility, etc.

Does that mean most people in Ward 3 want to play baseball? Does that mean in a universe where supply was equal and all facilities were equally represented, baseball would see the highest demand? Does that mean nobody in Ward 3 wants to swim outside? Does that mean gymnastics in DC is just not popular? I don't think it does. Do you?

I happen to know first-hand how and why many DC residents are using Maryland facilities. Gymnastics? Go to Rockville or Silver Spring (because DC isn't providing options to its residents). Outdoor pools if you live in upper NW? Join a private one, or go up to Montgomery county (because DC isn't providing an outdoor pool in Ward 3).

I think one can generate demand, create erroneous numbers, and ignore entire populations, making them somewhat invisible, if that's what an interest group or individual desires. We can do better.

I think as the article highlights, DPR is not providing facilities in an equitable manner to serve the needs of DC residents, citywide and locally.

I think this needs to be intelligently and carefully examined with an eye toward equity.

by Active In DC on Dec 5, 2013 5:22 pm • linkreport

Active in DC -- I made a similar point in various writings, starting with an evaluation of the rec. center building program under Mayor Williams, and that we should plan facilities at three scales: (1) citywide; (2) district or sector or area (like the area elements, other jurisdictions call them sectors or districts); and (3) neighborhoods.

In other words, we don't need big outdoor pools in every neighborhood. But we do need some around the city, organized by district. We don't need indoor tracks in every neighborhood, maybe not in every district, but hell, we don't even have one in the entire city as part of DPR. Etc.

2. I was looking for a cite that someone gave on an e-list I'm on that is relevant, and I was able to get it. It's relevant to this general thread:

Playborhood: Turn your Neighborhood into a Place for Play by Mike Lanza

There's also a blog.

by Richard Layman on Dec 6, 2013 8:34 am • linkreport

Basically, (sorry) the point was that the planning under Mayor Williams, and since, just builds the same thing over and over, without consideration of a broader set of needs. The facility at Deanwood is an, maybe the only, exception. And one change or addition to the repertoire of facilities is splash/water features.

by Richard Layman on Dec 6, 2013 8:35 am • linkreport

The question isn't are our sports spaces serving both genders. It's broader. Are our sports spaces serving all the citizens? Are they serving any of the citizens? Are any of our public spaces and facilities serving the citizens?

In DC, it's a foreign idea that the government should provide services and facilities just to improve the quality of life of the resident. It went out of style when the city started losing population in the 1960's. The over-representation of baseball isn't the result of any real policy, it's more a reflection of the fact that it's been half a century since any thought has been given to recreational facilities, and the facilities that we have are representative of what was desired 50 years ago.

by contrarian on Dec 6, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

that's why I am disappointed that the Play DC "master" "planning" effort doesn't seem to be as robust and as wide ranging as I'd hoped.

Parks advocates who tout how great DC is don't drill down to the facilities and programs level, just look at gross grained numbers.

Of course, I argue this is a problem across the board with planning in the city, and stated vision vs. plan goals and implementation in reality.

by Richard Layman on Dec 6, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

Sam, while I agree with your basic argument about the need to focus more on sports opportunities for girls in the district, I offer the following observations about portions of your thoughtful piece:

Selective Use of Data - Need to be a bit careful about using a single national study to draw broad conclusions about the sports choices of our children in NW DC. What might be helpful would be to have some market research done of our kids and their current preferences and aspirations.

Having said that, your conclusion that baseball is not a top priority for boys in this study - and thus not in NW DC - is not supported by a fair read of the data. Boys activities 3-6 - soccer, jogging, swimming and baseball - all fall within 48-51% participation. Given the margin of error of any research like this it means that baseball could actually be third not tied for 5th. And applying this analysis to the lifestyle of NW DC, I doubt that football would be that high meaning that baseball could actually end up being #2. At the very least if you are citing the top 5 preferences in the study baseball is indeed tied for 5th, and should have be included in your not totally complete list of the boys top 5.

Baseball fields are multipurpose - So while there may a fair number of baseball fields in NW, almost all of them are multipurpose. Adult softball is played on most of the Little League sized fields, and many other activities - from soccer to lacrosse to dog runs to just free play - happen in the outfield of the fields when not in use. While they are used for baseball, they also get a lot of use for other activities year round.

What is unusual about the fields in NW DC, in fact, is the lack of dedicated baseball fields. The Northwest Little League boundary does not have a single regulation Little League field - one with a fence and a pitcher's mound - making us perhaps one of the only Little League franchises in the entire US without a single regulation Little League field. None of the private or public schools in NW have a dedicated baseball field of any size or dimension - all are multi-use.

Need for More Baseball Fields - The truth is that the growing number of children in NW DC and the arrival of a successful Major League baseball franchise has caused an enormous spike in the number of kids playing baseball causing a field shortage of every kind. NWLL's 6-12 year old program has increased from 450 kids a few years ago to more than 600 now, and is growing by 30-50 a year. Due to field shortages (small number of fields, multi-purpose use) NWLL is a season or two away from not being able to provide the basic Little League experience - 12 games a season, 1 practice a week. To satisfy anticipated growth in the years ahead NWLL - a single baseball program among the dozens of baseball options in NW DC - will actually need more fields, not fewer.

The pressure on open space is a NW DC wide problem. It is becoming clear that the space/fields/parks we have available is inadequate for a much larger and growing population of both NW kids and other kids attending the large number of public and private schools in NW. Any comprehensive solution to the very real problems you outline is going to require some kind of grand bargain with the National Park Service, liberating some of the public land in NW for use by local residents. We simply do not have enough sports-appropriate open space to satisfy the needs of our current school age population, let alone one which could grow substantially in the years ahead.

Sam, many of us who know you are grateful for your spirited leadership and willingness to fight for better days for our kids. But this article was a bit unfair to the realities of youth baseball in NW DC, and I felt I needed to weigh in a bit. Keep up the good work and will see you around the neighborhood soon.

by Simon Rosenberg on Dec 7, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

@JDC Esq, Is the article saying there are not enough community pools? I am sure everyone would agree with that.

I disagree. WDC is rich in swimming pools and has a strong aquatics program. WDC has more pools per capita than most cities/communities.

by Tina on Dec 7, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

@Cavan, The baseball fields are a legacy from a time when baseball was the most popular youth sport and girls sports weren't taken seriously. Nothing more

I agree.

@Fitz, Plus as far as I understand it the interest in physical activities among girls and women is lower than it is for boys and men.

Wow. This is a really old fashioned attitude. Its akin to saying "we don't need pedestrian safety facilities at this intersection b/c so few pedestrians try to cross here".

Please look at statistics of changes in girls and women's participation in school and collegiate sports with the advent of Title IX. It belies your comment.

by Tina on Dec 7, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

@Richard, I'm not against... building more swimming pools..

I'm not either. I'm a life long competitive swimmer and swimming coach. I spend a lot of time in and around swimming pools all over the region and the country. But DC is already super rich in swimming pools. Not that even more wouldn't be great. Just saying there are lots already and they should be appreciated. We are very fortunate compared to other places.

As a swimmer and swimming coach, I would love to see the local rivers clean enough to swim in. Being able to access that natural resource and body of water for swimmimng would greatly enhance local swimming opportunities as well as building skills.

by Tina on Dec 7, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

@drumz, acknowledging that there is some sort of gap.

i agree. Often the first recognition needs to come from parents who have stupid old fashioned ideas about girls and sports. It also needs to be recognized by public sports administrators like gym teachers and parks and rec planners who have the same dumb ideas. [Off topic related to another thread: to my northern sensibility this attitude re: girls and sports seems like a southern culture thing]

by Tina on Dec 7, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

@Dave Murphy, , I don't understand why DC does not have a public youth swim league...

They do! Its renowned for engaging African American youth in swimming, a group that represents a gap in swimming when compared to US totals.

http://www.tpdcallstars.com/

http://dpr.dc.gov/release/updated-dpr-and-ubf-host-27th-annual-black-history-invitational-swim-meet

by Tina on Dec 7, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

A couple items that seem to particularly warrant (in my opinion) follow-up questions and—hopefully—answers.

1) To those who suggest that the numbers being used in the article are "selective", aren't all numbers, or citations, presented in articles, papers, reports, etc. inherently "selective"? I would suggest it is not possible to be anything but selective if one wants to have a focused conversation—especially in a forum such as this, with citizens that have limited timeframes for such conversations, and varied expertise. In fact, can one not argue (and be correct) that any number is "selective"? If anyone would like to bring other numbers focused on the issues raised in the article, it would be very welcome, and would only serve to further the conversation.

2) As relates to the question of actual participation in DC baseball by little league players, let's not dance around and selectively present numbers or conditions. I think we would all be well served by knowing real participation numbers here in DC.

To that end, would anyone with more intimate knowledge like to share the actual percentage of little league players that are female?

My conversations with little league participants, organizers, and advocates, as well as first hand observation, leads me to believe the number is less than 10%. Is that number accurate, or inaccurate. And if it is inaccurate, how so?

Gender equity can be achieved through the balance of gender-biased facilities (in terms of actual participation), and gender neutral facilities. Examples of gender-biased (and I use this in a neutral manner) would be baseball fields and gymnastics/dance facilities. Gender neutral would be swimming pools, (mixed use) soccer fields, tennis courts, etc.

So, while there are 14 DPR controlled baseball fields in Ward 3, and if we accept the premise that such fields are predominantly used by boys, where are the female gender-biased DPR facilities?

And why are so many of the fields in Ward 3 being used as EITHER baseball OR soccer fields, but—despite what some have suggested—NOT both?

Ward 3 is the only ward without a public outdoor swimming pool. If one wants to participate in gymnastics one is traveling to MD or VA. Etc.

The article suggests that a large percentage of DC's DPR controlled land is being used for baseball, and as participation in little league (by far, the biggest user of thee fields) is predominantly serving the male youth of DC, that such allocation is fundamentally flawed and inequitable from a gender perspective. The city should be taking a harder look at how to better serve both genders, and—as others have pointed out—should make sure their facilities are serving all residents regardless of gender, age, interests, etc.

Whether the reason for the current allocation is a historical remnant, effective advocacy by interest groups, due to claims of finance, or simply a misguided or inadvertent management of DPR facilities and resources, DC should work to fix this imbalance and bring a greater degree of equity to their resource allocation.

by Active in DC on Dec 8, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or