That title sounds absurd. Any normal tax payer might read that and think “Really? Because I’m paying for them.” In a roundabout way, yes you are. So you’d think that the public’s access would be much greater than it really is. Sadly, that’s not the case.
In my recent venture into adult soccer, I’ve been on the hunt for a place to practice. And when I say practice, I mean kick a ball into a net. Not a pickup game of me and 29 of my closest soccer buddies. Me and maybe one more person. If you need details, I might try a few finishing drills. Maybe a few penalty kicks. A corner kick or two. I might run the length of the field a few times. Nothing crazy. All I want to do is use 1/4 of a public soccer field, and alas I’ve had no luck. No luck as in I have driven around to at least 5 parks in the North Fulton/West Gwinnett area and have not come across one single soccer field open to the public’s use.
A tad annoyed and rather befuddled, I decided to call a couple of places. I used this fabulous list of amenities supposedly open to the public to drive my calls.
Here’s how it broke down:
– Pickneyville Park and soccer complex: Gorgeous soccer fields, but surrounded by high black fences with locks on the gates. They’ve been locked for probably 3 months now. A woman answers. Me: When are your soccer fields open? Her: sun up to sun down. Me: Oh! Ok!…are you sure about that? Because they have big locks on them. Have for a while now. Her: Oh! Hold on….let me check. (goes away and comes back) Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Closed for restoration. Me: When will they be open. Her: Not sure. You can always call and try to schedule some time. Me: *hangs up.*
– East Roswell Park: Same spiel. Fields closed for “restoration.” Except this time, the girl gave me an estimation. “They’ll be open in a few weeks.” Oh! Great! I’ll mark it on my calendar…
– George Pierce Park: I ask the same question. When are your soccer fields open? Lady: Ummm….for what? Me: I’d like to use them to practice on. Lady: Like a game? Me: No. Just to kick the ball around. Lady: Well we have a big field you can get out on and run around all you want. Me: Do they have goals? Lady: No. Me: So I can’t use the soccer fields? Lady: It’s only my third day. Hold on one second. Lady: No. The soccer fields are closed to the public. You can call so and so to schedule some time though. Me: *hangs up*
Do you see a pattern here? I’m one girl wanting to use a soccer field for about 2 hours on a Saturday morning. I don’t plan on bringing my army out. Nor do I plan on sowing your fields with my cleats — both of them. What’s a girl gotta do to be able to practice some soccer around here?!?! And who said it was ok for the Parks and Rec department to take these fields hostage? I get what may be the driving force. I get that some people use and abuse them. I do. But why let 1 bad apple ruin it for the whole bunch? Make some rules. Limit the # of people on the fields at any time. Open them for only a limited time on the weekends. Oh us tax payers, yeah, we pay for park police, too, so have them patrol and enforce. What’s so hard about that?
Don’t just completely lock us out. It’s keeping a really great sport from being loved by a very deserving group of people.