People playing group basketball games during March, when the coronavirus lockdown was in effect

Philly removed the basketball rims from more than 50 public parks in the last two weeks because people wouldn’t stop playing group games.

The 54 hoop-free sites are out of a total 189 parks, rec centers and playgrounds in the city that normally have fully functioning basketball courts — meaning roughly 29% of Philadelphia’s outdoor courts have been stripped of their baskets.

Rims have been removed from neighborhoods all over the city, from Kingsessing to Kensington to Holmesburg.

“We don’t think that people should be out playing basketball,” Health Commissioner Tom Farley said at a Monday press conference. “They’re risking themselves. They’re risking their friends. They’re risking their family. Everyone needs to take this very seriously.”

Over the past week, the Department of Parks and Recreation has locked up most parks that have fences and posted signs at athletic courts and playgrounds to let people know they’re temporarily closed.

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Despite these measures, plus a daily drumbeat of messaging to #stayhome, the city has gotten dozens of complaints about groups using basketball courts, according to a spokesperson. People have expressed worry via 311, email and social media.

The pickup games have also been seen by several Parks & Rec staffers, who told superiors they were concerned about the potential to spread the coronavirus by virtue of their close contact.

“If residents are still using courts after we put the signs up and lock the gates,” city spokesperson Maita Soukup explained, “those sites are flagged for further inspection and removal of rims.”

More basketball smackdowns are in the pipeline. Soukup said the department plans to remove several additional hoops from public spaces in the coming weeks, but she wouldn’t disclose where.

Officials have warned the city that congregating in groups could worsen the spread of the virus. Health Commissioner Farley has repeatedly advised Philadelphians only to break the local stay-at-home order for essential outings or individual exercise — like biking and jogging.

Group games, though, are frowned upon.

Parks & Rec staff will continue to monitor public spaces to determine if they need to remove any other recreational equipment, like soccer nets. Said city Managing Director Brian Abernathy: “We’re taking a much more proactive and organized approach this week.”

Philly public spaces where basketball hoops have been removed

  • 33rd & Oxford Playground
  • American Legion
  • Boyle Recreation Center
  • Bridesburg Recreation Center
  • Chew Playground
  • Clark Park
  • Cobbs Creek Park
  • Cohocksink Recreation Center
  • Dendy Playground
  • Dickinson Square Park
  • Disston Recreation Center
  • Eastwick Playground
  • Fern Hill Park
  • Finley Recreation Center
  • Fisher Park
  • Fishtown Recreation Center
  • FJ Myers Recreation Center
  • Gathers Recreation Center
  • Gifford Playground
  • Happy Hollow Recreation Center
  • Hawthorne Cultural Center
  • Holmesburg Playground
  • Houseman Playground
  • Hunting Park
  • Jacobs Playground
  • Kendrick Recreation Center
  • Kingsessing Recreation Center
  • Lackman Playground
  • Lawncrest Recreation Center
  • Lower Mayfair Recreation Center
  • Mander Playground
  • Markward Playground
  • McArdle Playground
  • Mifflin Square Park
  • MLK Recreation Center
  • Monkiewicz Playground
  • Mullin Playground
  • Murphy Recreation Center
  • Palmer Playground
  • Parkside Evans Playground
  • Ralph Brooks Park
  • Rivera Recreation Center
  • Rizzo Ice Rink
  • Russo Park & Playground
  • Sacks Playground
  • Shissler Recreation Center
  • Shuler Playground
  • Torresdale Playground
  • Towey Playground
  • Trumbette Playground
  • Tustin Recreation Center
  • Vogt Playground
  • Waterloo Playground
  • Wissinoming Park

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...