Sports grounded

Vanishing playgrounds spell the death knell for outdoor sports

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | January 11, 2011



When I was at school, evenings always meant playtime, at the community park playground. Only when there was a local football orcricket tournament were we kids shooed away from the grounds. Even then the colony's bylanes or someone's courtyard were a tailormade substitute.

But today, many children, my seven-year-old niece included, stay indoors. There is a dearth of community space, playgrounds. Parks are being planned with aesthetics in mind, with utility being thrown-in as afterthought. So, an entire generation is being deprived of playgorunds for recreation and sports.

Take for example, the two huge, adjacent parks near West Delhi’s Jail Road area. A few years ago, both parks were converted into well-maintained gardens with narrow pathways for jogging. One of them even has a small lake now. Senior citizens flock to jog and do yoga in the mornings. While parks give a much-needed space to the elderly to uniwnd, they offer little joy to visiting children. The notice stuck at the entrance instructs children not to play and to leave their pets at home as animals are not allowed in.

It is a similar story at almost every park in the area. In Hari Nagar and Janakpuri too, the gardeners do not allow children to enter the parks with their footballs or cricket kits as they may harm the flowers.

With shrinking space and ballooning number of vehicles, bylanes and patios are giving way to parking spots and the extra rooms.

The state government or the civic agency offers no space for these kids to take up sports. Outdoor sports are fast becoming an extracurricular activity. The space and the time for this erstwhile recreation is being captured by Playstations and Nintendos. Most households will have children whose fingers get all the exercise they need and more. The children stand to lose.

Some parents do take their children to private sports complexes nearby, but it is not something everyone can afford. Jasmine Kaur, a parent says, “On weekends, I take my daughters to the sports complex, but being a working mother I cannot do it everyday. And not many parents can actually afford this.”

It is the high time the government realises that it is not enough to just build beautiful lawns and gardens. It also must address the problem of dwindling playing fields for children.

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