As Oak Park continues to wrestle with what our community should look like (especially in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement), we should reconsider our tennis courts. Yes, tennis is a COVID-friendly activity. However, its structural prevalence in parks is potentially problematic. 

When I moved to Oak Park in high school, I was perplexed by the abundance of tennis courts and paucity of basketball hoops. The few hoops that existed generally had the rims locked to discourage play. From the information I’ve gathered, tennis courts abound because tennis is a nice, safe, upper-middle-class pastime. Basketball is a much more accessible sport, and, as a result, is played by a larger variety of people. Basketball hoops are limited because the community does not want a certain demographic congregating in the parks, potentially making noise and causing trouble. 

All members of our community should be encouraged to enjoy our parks. We should take a closer look at how we’ve designed our public spaces to work toward better achieving this goal.

Chena Underhill

Oak Park

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