Mayor green lights Parks permits for youth sports leagues

Members of the Brooklyn City Football Club kick around a ball at Shore Road Park.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

Youth sports must go on!

The city will now issue permits for youth sports leagues to play in the fall season, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday — a reversal from hizzoner’s earlier decision to suspend the program due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“The folks from the sports leagues that do so much good with our kids, they’ve been appealing for the ability to open up. We’re going to grant that,” the mayor said on The Brian Lehrer Show.

The mayor told listeners that his change of heart prompted by an Aug. 24 press conference at Bay Ridge’s Shore Road Park at which a bevy of Brooklyn Council members and organizers from local sports leagues called on the city to let kids play. De Blasio also gave a special shout out to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Baseball Association for leading the charge to get children back out on the field.

Fall youth sports leagues for baseball, non-contact lacrosse, cricket, soccer and flag football can begin playing as early as Sept. 15, according to the Parks Department website, but the department will not be issuing permits for any adult organizations currently. All leagues must complete a safety checklist before final review of their permit. 

Prior to the mayor’s decision to release permits for leagues, the city’s sports fields were still open for pick-up sports, which area politicians at the Aug. 24 presser argued is more hazardous than organized play when joining in Bay Ridge in a call to release permits days prior to de Blasio’s Aug. 28 announcement. 

“By allowing group sports but not issuing permits, City Hall is sending a message that pickup games are okay but organized, permitted, youth league sports are somehow not okay. This idea completely defies all available logic,” Councilman Justin Brannan said.

And though it took a fight with City Hall and uncertainty fort the city’s families prior to the sports season, local politicians hailed the return of some normalcy to the lives of the city’s kids as a win. 

“This is a victory for children and families who were looking for a safe, healthy outlet – but it shouldn’t have taken public pressure to get it right the first time,” said State Sen. Andew Gounardes. “Low-to-moderate risk youth sports have been allowed by the State since July, and the Parks Department’s last-minute decision not to issue youth fall sports permits caused undue stress for families. Still, I am glad that the kids will be allowed to play in their fall leagues. This is a common-sense decision that will have a positive impact on equity, health and safety.”