SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)-- Basketball hoops were taken down last summer in Springfield as part of COVID-19 safety regulations to keep people from gathering in the close-contact sport.
But local activists and players are coming together to put up replacement hoops, wondering why the city still won't let them stay up.
"Some of us, if we're not playing basketball, they're either at home, or they're in the streets, and we don't want that," local basketball player Rodney Mayfield Jr. said.
16-year-old Mayfield Jr. was one of the first to play on the court at Adams Park a few years ago.
But last year, the city removed the hoops, as basketball remained on the state's list of high-risk activities.
"I mean I understand cause Covid was just starting, but now it’s different because everybody's coming back and doing everything now," Mayfield Jr. said.
Community activist Jynai McDonald told Western Mass News the hoops were taken down by the city over the summer. Her group put new ones up, which were eventually taken down. Now they're trying again in hopes they'll stay.
"They need to be able to safely enjoy their own communities, they need to be given positive alternatives to violence," McDonald said.
McDonald told Western Mass News she was wondering why the hoops haven't been given the green light by the city. So Western Mass News reached out to Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, who said Springfield is still red on the state's risk map, with lingering concerns of new Covid-19 variants. She said when the city hits the yellow, or moderate risk, that's when it will be reconsidered.
In a statement, Caulton-Harris said in part:
"There is no way to monitor activity on open park/school/playground space. Fifty-nine percent of the cases in our city last week are under the age of 30...we can consider outdoor league activity coupled with the appropriate park/venue permit and a covid-19 plan."
Players here in Springfield said having these hoops up is necessary for kids in the city, with an initiative to shoot hoops, not guns.
"We have the hoops up. There’s no reason to be shooting guns when you can come here and play ball," Mayfield Jr. said.