'Borderline draconian': Basketball hoops around York Region bagged up to stop play

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Some of the statistics on the well-being of children in our province and nation are shocking.

Half of youth under 18 are experiencing anxiety and 10 per cent have considered suicide, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Despite this, the provincial government led by Doug Ford has shut all basketball courts, soccer fields and other sports facilities to try and stem the tide of COVID-19, which is rampaging through the province.

And although he rescinded a plan to ban children from playgrounds, towns like Markham and Richmond Hill are still placing bags over basketball nets.

Frank Gratta, former president of the York Region Athletics Association, believes Markham could have been far less stringent with its implementation of the guidelines.

He suggests the municipality could have easily just put up signs rather than bagging the hoops in order to allow people to make their own decisions about safety.

"I'm not a proponent of covering anything...I think (signs) would have been better," he said. "I don't know why they need to be covered when other activities such as dog walking and running are allowed. It's borderline draconian. If people are maintaining the rules it should be fine."

His comments were echoed by Raoul Baumgartner, the president of the York South Silver Knights, who said although not as bad as last fall when Markham actually removed the nets, it still harms children and adults.

"It's well proven that exercise can help mitigate mental health issues," he said. "The average person has put on 25 pounds since the beginning of the pandemic. Why are they deciphering between the playground and the basketball court?"

He said the courts at one local court have even been bagged twice.