Before moving to State College in 2010, I emailed a PSU colleague and asked if there was a good pickup basketball group.
He responded affirmatively and adamantly: around-noon, just-show-up-and-play basketball on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Rec Hall. He had been a regular since the mid-1970s — and he wasn’t alone.
Since then, I’ve played as often as possible. A former college athlete struggling to stay in mediocre shape, I’ve appreciated knowing that I could show up MWF with no prior word and have 10-30 basketball mates. But beyond basketball and exercise, I knew I’d be greeted by a diverse group of folks from across the campus and town. Over time, they asked about the status of my dissertation, the classes that I taught, my past experiences, the health of my pregnant wife, the doings of my kids. I asked a ton of questions, too: What’s the best pizza in town? How long have you been playing here? How’s your ankle after the surgery?
Penn State’s new policy that limits access to Rec Hall and other athletic buildings is devastating to the around-noon game. Without a change, the game will end soon as the policy decimates participation from both PSU and non-PSU folks. The impact of this is far greater than the blow to my exercise regimen. There is a welcoming, healthy community that is not being sustained. I wonder how much this was considered in the adoption of the policy. I wonder how this lives out PSU’s land-grant mission.
Mark Kissling, State College