Football: A Great Use of Street Space

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Back in the days when I was young I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again.” – Ahmad

Kids playing catch along Girard Street between 14th and 15th Streets.

Kids playing catch along Girard Street between 14th and 15th Streets.

I was taking a stroll through Columbia Heights, camera in hand, when I came across this beautiful scene of kids throwing around the football in the street. It reminded me of the days when I was growing up and doing the same thing, usually with my brothers. We played a game called 500. The rules were that one person would continually throw the ball high in the air toward the group and shout out a number (e.g. 100, 25, etc.).  If a player caught the ball, they earned that number of points. If they touched it but didn’t catch it, they’d lose that number. First to 500 won. There’d be the occasional quick timeout for passing cars, but usually the cars would have to get pretty close before we’d move aside. As is what looks to be the case with the group pictured above.  Anyway, I never won a game a game of 500. I was a bit too short, a little chubbier than the rest, and couldn’t catch the ball all too well either.  But this scene made me think about more than all those lost games or how much fun it is to throw a football in the street.  It reminded me about the wonderful potential uses of street space.  Streets have a lot more potential uses than just cars, bicycles, and organized rallies.  A planned street festival is one perfect example.  Spontaneous football in the street…now that’s another great use of the streets you don’t see often enough.  It’s nice to know and refreshing to see that kids today are still using streets for activities they weren’t intentionally designed to host.

A nice grab up against the sideline of cars.

A nice grab up against the sideline of cars.

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