Sports Leagues and Parents Push Back after City Says Field Access Will be First-Come First-Served

Courtesy of Super Soccer Stars.

A new city policy about reserving fields in public parks threatens the ability of local sports leagues to play this fall, and some parents are petitioning to get it changed. The city says it is not giving out permits for leagues to play in parks this fall, citing health and safety.

“As we prioritize health and safety concerns, we are currently not issuing fall athletic fields permits. Our fields have remained open for first-come, first-serve socially distanced play throughout the pandemic—baseball, softball and Little League teams can play or practice on any open field.

As this public health crisis is ever-evolving, we will continue to reassess our ability to issue permits later in the fall.”

But parents and operators of sports leagues say the new policy puts kids’ sports in jeopardy because the leagues can’t schedule their seasons with peace of mind if they don’t have guaranteed field space. Among the local leagues that are protesting the decision are West Side Soccer League and Super Soccer Stars. So far, more than 7,700 people have signed a petition opposing the move.

“Allowing permitted organizations to run programming according to a programmed schedule with permits will increase the safe use at the parks,” wrote Toby Tenenbaum of Soccer Stars United. “The coalition believes the “first come, first served” approach allows non-permitted crowds to gather in unsafe ways and will lead to overcrowding and a lack of COVID-responsible participation.”

Others who have spoken out include Riverside Parks Conservancy President Dan Garodnick.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. JudyMoody says:

      Another shame on DeBlasio. This is absolutely ridiculous and makes no sense. These not for profit organizations are amazing for our community and children. We should be encouraging them to run not making everything so so hard for families and children.

    2. Joe jock says:

      What??!!! And let the poor kids use the field instead of the rich kids?! For shame!

      • LeavingNYC says:

        What does that even mean? These leagues do financial aid – lot of “poor” kids playing too even if they cant pay.

        De blasio is just a pathetic loser who doesnt care to run the city. He keeps giving more reasons for families to leave the city.

      • ExUWSr says:

        What an ignorant comment this is.
        Those leagues, especially the WSSL, offer access to organized sports at affordable rates ad offer a substantial amount of scholarships or lower fees for economic hardship; they are also not for profit mostly managed by volunteers; they serve the whole the city’s population. By having reserved time slots on those fields, they are able to organize many more games and hence serve as many kids as possible.
        You would know if you were not, I assume, an old grumpy white male…

      • Todd Wernstrom says:

        As a former West Side Little League coach for six seasons, I can tell you that whether kids are rich or not rich, the fees to play are about $200. This includes uniforms and some equipment, not too mention the commitment of volunteer coaches and administrators. It is a huge commitment, one that is well worth the effort. To suggest that WSLL –not too mention West Side Soccer–are depriving disadvantaged kids of fields to play on is absurd. Families that cannot afford the nominal fee are given scholarships. Don’t confuse these worthy organizations with expensive travel teams which cost thousands of dollars and play on many of the same fields (I’m not knocking those organizations either; my son played for two of them and had a great experience). Next time, before you make an assumption about privilege, perhaps you should check your own.

        • Todd Wernstrom says:

          Oops, too many “o’s” in my “too’s”! I mention this only because I see soooo many grammar and spelling issues in comments…which just means I, too, am part of the problem!

      • Beth says:

        The concern is groups of belligerent mask-less adults playing sports who will bully the kids and their parents off the fields.

    3. John says:

      This makes no sense at all and and is kidney punch to a lot of kids who will only be in school one day a week and have no other opportunity to socialize and participate in essential physical activity. If museums, gyms, barbershops, all indoors, can open then kids should be able to play sports outside where the risks are far lower. BTW, people are in the parks playing sports anyway so why not let the teams have their season and keep the coaches employed? This is pure stupidity.