Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT
Recently, a video capturing an altercation between a group of young basketball players and square-dancing seniors went viral on social media. A group of youngsters came to the basketball court at a park in Luoyang, Central China's Henan Province, and began their game while some seniors danced in the near distance. In the video, a young player can be seen cornered by dozens of angry dancers. The quarreling quickly escalated between them and became physical. The police were later involved and the basketball court has been closed temporarily.
Although the conflict has quieted down, it has aroused heated discussion on social media. It is entirely justifiable for both the senior dancers and basketball players to make use of the court to strengthen their bodies and improve their health. Nowadays, there are a growing number of people in China beginning to realize the importance of, and tending to attach great significance to, physical training. This growing awareness and ever-increasing need for facilities are in sharp contrast with the scarcity of public venues available in most cities.
Coordinating these competing needs and optimizing the use of existing sites will be a test of urban management departments, service capacity and the administering ability of local governments.
The Wangcheng Park where the conflict took place is located in the old area of Luoyang city. As an increasing number of residents join the square-dancing team, the park has become all the more crowded. According to statistics provided by the Sports Bureau of Luoyang, there are just 1.53 square meters of sports field available per person, in spite of thousands of sports venues situated within the city. Moreover, citizens participating in square-dancing amount to nearly 100,000. An official with the sports bureau expressed that the imbalance between supply and demand of usable sports sites has become a major issue for his department.
One way to alleviate these issues would be to allocate individual activity times for both sides. For instance, square-dancers could make use of the venue from 7 pm to 8 pm while basketball players could begin their games later in the evening as basketball is a more intense and vigorous exercise calling for complete digestion after dinner.
The city neither belongs to the older generation, nor to the younger generation alone. All citizens remain entitled to equal access of shared public resources. Harmoniousness and inclusiveness should become key characteristics of shared urban life in order to maintain and improve the sustainable development of the city.
In this respect, some scholars said that the use of a space for specialized purposes should be prioritized when referring to professional venues, which can also be shared by all when not in use by professional teams. Community resources are meant to be shared by all residents to the greatest extent possible. However, joint consultation aimed at reaching consensus is necessary to resolve these types of disputes over the right to use shared public facilities such as a basketball court. Shared facilities are designed to promote inclusiveness of the community, not become a source of neighborhood tension.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times. email@example.com Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion